Today’s post touches on a new idea by Seth Godin, and three posts by Tom Peters who discusses the environment in which you sell to your customer, the elemental customer service philosophy, and updates his “In Search of Excellence” criteria for success.
Surprising the customer with a little something extra (see my earlier post about Lagniappe) is a fantastic way to increase revenue and build customer loyalty. Seth Godin has a great idea about call centers offering $20 to their customers who are forced to wait and wait and wait and wait some more. You may not have a call center but if you are a retailer and a customer has calmly waited for more than five minutes because you were short staffed, how about opening your conversation with, "Thanks for waiting so long. How may I help you? After the customer explains what (s)he is looking for, you respond: "Because you waited so patiently, I´m going to give you an additional 10% off on your next purchase, whether it´s today or at some point in the future." I think that would start most customers salivating right there.
Or, if you´re shipping something to a customer and the shipment is delayed, give the customer a small rebate. No matter the circumstance, your gesture shows you care and that you consider the customer important. The alternative, ignoring the customer´s inconvenience created when he tried to do business with you, will cause you to lose some of those customers and the hard won revenues they bring you. (Remember it´s five times more expensive to acquire a customer than it is to keep one.)
On Tom Peters´ blog Steven Yastrow writes about his experiences at Guitar Center, a retailer that sells, you guessed it, guitars. Read the post, and then read the comments. It appears to me, that by making a few adjustments to the noise level in their stores, Guitar Center could sell more guitars and related products. Obviously a 151-store chain is successful, but are they losing business by catering only to certain customer segments? Are you losing business by catering to only certain customer segments? Maybe you should turn the music down.
Check out his next post about the banner posted at the Hua Xin Li Dress Company in China. If the reference to God offends you or your employees, change that word to "right," and post it in as many places as they do.
Finally, in the very next post, Tom writes about the 13 "basics" of enterprise excellence. Read them. Print them out; go find a place where you can be alone and think about how you can apply them in your business.
I recommend you spend some time surfing both Seth´s and Tom´s blogs. Seth has written many books you may find invaluable to your business and Tom is, well, Tom is Tom Peters. He also has a lot of free stuff available for download.
"But there´s no substitute for getting smarter faster. And the way you get smarter is to screw around vigorously. Try stuff. See what works. See what fails miserably. Learn. Rinse. Repeat."
–Tom Peters quoted in "Fast Company" Dec. 2001.