Keeping Your Customers

Not so many years ago, most parking bays used to have oil spots.  From the early days of the motor industry it was tacitly accepted that engines would leak. Not much – just enough to be irritating. Customers didn’t like it – but that’s the way it was. Salesmen even suggested that customers buy small drip trays to solve the problem!

Then the Japanese started building motorbike engines that didn’t leak – and the world sat up and took notice. Goodbye drip-trays, goodbye unsightly stains, goodbye dirty engines. And before long Japanese built engines were dominating sales, and the traditional European and American manufacturers were scrambling to save the situation. But it was too late – their customers were flocking away in droves. All because of those little drips of oil.

The same thing is usually true with your customers. The things that chase them away are not major, but are rather an accumulation of little irritants – like little drips of oil on their driveways.

In essence – business relationships are just like personal ones – people stick around when they are happy.  Sadly, most of the time companies are not even aware of the little things that are causing unhappiness. Or they try to compensate by giving customers “specials” to defuse the situation. Banks seem to be infamous for this. How long did it take for them to extend business hours, to be open when it suited YOU?  Even now, not all have got on the bandwagon.

I chatted with my bank about this about 15 years ago, on return from a trip overseas. Why, I asked, do you open late, close early, and let your staff go on lunch during our lunch hour – the only time we have to do business with you? And why do you let dozens of clients - even old people, and mothers with babies - stand for hours in queues?  Why is there no seating? No public conveniences? On a couple of occasions I actually created a fuss over these irritations – and put it in writing. I’m not claiming credit – but my bank now has extended trading hours, comfortable seating, and tries very hard to ensure waiting time is minimal. And I’m sure they are reaping the benefits. The only thing that concerns me – it took them so long to get “with it”.  My new beef is about online security concerns. Will it take to get a solution? Time will tell.  Having a monopoly has advantages that the ordinary business can only dream of.

Be that as it may – how is your business shaping up? If you disguised yourself, and did business with your own company incognito – would you enjoy the experience?  Or, would you notice little irritants?

As a business owner, should it concern you if your products / services have little “drips” – minor things that peeve your customers? It should. Regaining a customer, or finding a new one, costs up to ten times more than keeping the existing ones happy.  And – what chance do you realistically have of regaining a customer if the drips – the irritations – are still there?

The European and American bike manufacturers woke up – too late. You don’t want to follow their example. Look around, see things from your customer’s viewpoint. Or – ask. Far too often sales people are trying to sell more – when they should listen more. And, once you know what’s causing unhappiness or irritation – it is normally not difficult or expensive to fix it.  The rewards are huge: your public image improves, you have happy customers singing your praises, and your staff morale improves. There are fewer complaints to deal with, so staff can focus on productive (and profitable) activities.

 

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is there a system in place to record, track and monitor customer complaints?
  2. Are sales staff listening, and providing honest feedback back to management?
  3. Are customers invited and encouraged to tell you where you can improve?
  4. Are your business processes simple, easy-to-use and friendly?

 

                              And - have a great business day!

 PS: are you still managing your customers the old, manual, labour intensive way?  There are lots of good CRM packages available, letting you accomplish more with less effort. If you’d like to look at CRM and its benefits, download a package from our CRM download page today.   Read more / download link:   CRM - Customer Management

~ by HF Hudson, for Bridge Business Solutions, 2006 – 2013

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How To Stop Your Left

 

Brain From Inhibiting

 

Success.

 

Do you experience a momentary feeling of panic when faced with a new application just loaded on your Computer? Or, maybe it’s not exactly panic ~ but let’s be honest ~ you’re not exactly excited at the prospect of learning all those new gizmos. In fact, if you could listen to your brain talking, it would be saying something like:

no way, Jose, this is waaaay too much to ask me to take in right now. Why do things have to be sooo complicated?  And why change, change, change?? Nope ~  can’t do this. Let’s do something else!”

Ok, so maybe we can’t hear the brain speak. But it communicates loud and clear, no mistake.  Usually by forcing a reaction.    So, you have to complete your tax returns. You look at the forms, see it looks all different from previous year ~ and end up doing something else.  And feeling guilty.

With me on this? Let’s recap ~ if you find yourself avoiding learning tasks, or “procrastinating” ~ often as not it’s your left brain taking over.

If we could imagine the brain as a set of twins, the left brain is the one associated with absolutes: logic, correctness, right and wrong, all prim and proper. In fact, the left brain is incorrigibly bossy. It likes to take over the show.  Whereas the right brain is the free spirit ~ intuitive, free-thinking,  fun-loving.  When they dress up, the left brain chooses sober business suits, with sensible shoes. While the right brain wants to wear psychedelic T shirts, clown outfits, or dress like a movie star going to the Oscars. The left brain thinks, reasons, and acts accordingly. And it’s very concerned about what others think. In fact, the left brain is always talking. It’s that internal “voice” talking in your head ~ do this, don’t do that, you should have, you shouldn’t have, why did you . . . get the picture? When faced with a problem, the left brain only looks at the obvious solutions. And, when it can’t see an immediate solution, the left brains says “Stop! This can’t be done.”

On the other hand, the right brain talks through sounds ~ music, humming, whistling, and pictures ~ dreams, doodles, sketches, insights, flashes of inspiration, out-of-the blue moments of insight. When faced with a problem, the right brain can come up with solutions that are stunningly successful. And the right brain never says “can’t” ~ in fact, it thrives on challenge.

The brain at work

As mentioned, the left brain just has to be right ~ all the time.  It’s no accident that left-brain dominated people make great accountants.  1+2+3+4+5 =  15,  yes?  Always. Nothing else is acceptable.

However, when you’re working with music, or art, or writing, or working with people (AND THIS INCLUDES MARKETING and MANAGING) ~ there is no absolute ‘right’ versus ‘wrong’. In fact, success at these things often defies logic ~ left brain logic, that is.

Because it turns out that there are actually two kinds of ‘logic’ ~ the mathematical 2+2 = 4 type,  black versus white, right versus wrong type; and EMOTIONAL logic ~ which often seems to break the rules that the mathematical type loves to impose.

Now, the proverbial $64,000 question:  which kind of logic usually controls people when they make a buying decision?

  1. Logical, or b) emotional?
  2. Rational, based on facts, or b) seemingly irrational, based on feelings?

If you answered a) ~ your sales and marketing is talking to the wrong side of the brain.  And it’s likely reflected in the return you’re getting. People don’t just want “facts” ~ they want to “feel good”. Which is why large companies are saying, in their advertising: “join our team, share our success.” Hence the advertising bling.

Because, to put it plainly, the left brain, so logical, factual and prissy right … is also BLAH. Yes, blah, boring.  You can see this during sales conferences. When the presenter hauls out all the facts and figures, the charts, the reasons why . . . you can actually see the attendees eyes glaze over. They switch off.  And that’s why we need to engage the RIGHT brain ~ we want people to feel interested, excited, positive.

You see, your product may be the greatest thing since sliced bread. It may be the brand leader in terms of quality, price, features, service.

But, in the words of Duke Ellington back in 1931: “it don’t mean a thing, (if it ain’t got that swing)”. In other words ~ if we want customers to be interested in our products ~

WE have to be interested. We have to have enthusiasm, to believe.

And, while we’re taking about Left brain versus Right brain functions ~ forgot to mention ~ the left brain is also associated with depression.  Are we surprised?  It’s all that seriousness. The burden of being right all the time. Skeptical?

Well, let's look at the other side of the coin. Most folk know the phrase “laughter is the best medicine.”  But have you ever thought ~ what makes something funny? What causes laughter?  And why is it so contagious? How is it that a few words, a fleeting situation, can have a whole room of people roaring with helpless laughter? No-one has a full explanation (yet) ~ but there’s a very powerful right brain connection. We laugh when we are presented with something zany, illogical, or ridiculous. We laugh when the right brain makes a lightning fast connection ~ a moment of insane inspiration.

Laughter is very often a group activity. Put people together, and they love to laugh together. It’s no aberration that “funny” and/or “witty” people are so popular at social events.  More than that, laughter bonds people.  The family that can laugh together, stays together. Same is true of business relationships.  Shared humor helps people de-stress, take stock, get perspective, over-come difficulties, resolve disagreements, and it inspires both creativity, and productivity.  Happy people are pro-active and constructive ~ and one of the best ways to ‘get happy’ is to share a positive vibe, plus a good laugh.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we should throw off all restraint, and go around hooting like owls or laughing at the moon like crazy hyenas.  The left brain may be blah and boring ~ but it knows how to do maths. And how to weigh alternatives. And how to spot potential problems.  Just don’t let it run the show, all the time.  Get both sides of the brain working, each at what it’s best at ~ and the results can be stunning.  There may be a lot more in you of the Mozart, or the Michael Angelo, than you realize.

P.S. Give your brain a break ~ literally.   Every hour or so, get up (if you’re chair-bound), stretch, take a brief walk, drink some water.  Just a few minutes works wonders.

© HF Hudson Bridge Business Solutions, 1999 - 2014


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