There is a saying, “the only thing that stays the same is change.” In today’s world, we are subject to change more than ever, because we now have much more choice than ever before. Through the internet, we now have access to unlimited amounts of information – we can Google something and we get thousands of opinions, options and choices.
All this choice is both a good and a bad thing for us. On the plus side, we like to have options, and freedom of choice is something we continue to fight for. On the negative side, too much choice and constant change can be very stressful and overwhelming. So what is best?
The simple answer is we need both, and how much of each really depends on the individual. Some people like constant change and risk taking, whilst others prefer to maintain the status quo. So how is this relevant to business?
Well, we need to recognise that our customers now have greater choice - they have unlimited access to buy products and services from anybody else and in some cases from anywhere in the world. So no longer can we rely on the fact that as long as our customers are satisfied with what we do, they will stay with us. They will be constantly bombarded with new choices and even if they have the most anti-change personality, can we really afford to just sit back and hope that they don’t go and try our competitors?
In his book “Customer satisfaction is worthless, customer loyalty is priceless,” Jeffery Gitomer identified that we have to work as hard on keeping our existing clients as we do getting new ones. This is a really important issue. I had a client who was spending tens of thousands of pounds on generating new leads for their business, but the customer base was not increasing year on year. When we looked in detail at what was happening, we found that they were losing as many clients as they were bringing on. So we took some of the marketing budget away from lead generation and put it towards looking after our existing customers and this helped the business to start growing again through improved customer retention.
So the key question to ask yourself is, WHY should your customers stay with you? The first answer is, of course, the product or service you supply. This must be first class and give great value for money. In ACTION we call this Delivery Mastery and it is this that stops your customers going elsewhere. However, it is not sufficient to make your customers WANT to stay – the real key to building customer loyalty is going the extra mile for them and creating the “WOW factor”. So what is the “WOW factor?”
Think of it the little extras that you can do for your customer over and above the normal product or service you provide. It is the thing you do that taps into the emotions of your customers and leaves a lasting impression. A classic example is of a top hotel in New York that ensured its top guests’ rooms had their favourite flowers, wine and chocolates waiting for them when they arrived. The hotel also trained its staff to remember the little details that would make their guests’ stay so much more memorable and ensure that they would never even think of staying anywhere else.
Another example is Paddi Lund, the most successful dentist in Australia, who built his entire business on referrals and loyal customers. Eg, when customers arrive, they are shown into a private waiting room by their own personal assistant where they are served morning/afternoon tea. The personal assistant stays with them talking about their interests, what they have been up to etc until they are finally shown into the dental room. After the appointment, their personal assistant brings them back to the private waiting room to book their next appointment to answer their questions.
He called these extras “critical non-essentials” or CNE’s. The key to their success is that they are not directly related to the product or service you are offering. Just giving more or better service is not enough; your customers expect the best, so when you deliver it, they are just getting what they have paid for. The WOW factor comes when you surprise the client with something different and unique to them, so much so that they not only say WOW to themselves, but they also go and tell everybody they know about it.
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The key to successful CNE’s is to overcome the 3 reasons NOT to do them:
1. Lack of ideas – give yourself time to think. Talk to your customers find out more about them and what interests and excites them. And speak to friends and colleagues too - it is always easier to come up with ideas for other people’s businesses than it is for your own.
2 Lack of money – if you remember that your CNE’s are marketing, then you should be allocating some of your general marketing budget to them. Also be creative - some of the best CNE’s don’t have to cost a penny.
3 Lack of time – always make sure that any CNE you start you can continue to do however busy you become. You can do this by systemising the process, training and delegating responsibility to your team.
So now you know how to create the WOW factor, you just need to put it into ACTION, because if you don’t your competition might beat you to it!