Canadian Vending

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Seven decisions that won’t cost a thing


September 27, 2013
By Jeanne Bliss

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Sept. 27, 2013 – Jeanne Bliss outlines several things that you can do to ensure best business practices and happy customers. Best of all, it won't cost you a thing.

Sept. 27, 2013 – Inspired customer leadership originates from the heart
and soul of an impassioned leader. They have the instincts on where to
take the business for customers, and absolute clarity on how to inspire
the organization to make it happen. Here are seven tips on how to create
that same inspiration for your company.

Take the time to know absolutely who you want to be your customers

Your business otherwise will continue to run on auto-pilot, the
functions of each of your operating areas (service, support, marketing,
operations, sales, etc) churning out what they do – without much real
conversation about what it all means to customers, and how it affects
them. Take the time to stew about it and gain the clarity of how you
want your customers to think of you and what greater purpose you are
performing for them.


Communicate that purpose for your business

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This may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how many companies have every
part of their company defining what they do separately, and the parts
don’t add up for customers. Do this litmus test to see how connected
your company is in knowing the higher mission they all collectively
serve for your customers. The next three employees you speak to, simply
ask them “What’s your job?” and “What’s our collective job?” You’ll be
surprised at the varied answers you’ll get. If you haven’t been the
beacon for them telling them where you’re headed, they’ll chart their
own course. They’ll decide on their own where they’re taking your
company for customers.

Establish your own set of guidelines for how to treat customers

Consider the various dimensions of your business and make a set of
statements about how each one of them should show up to customers. Be
clear about standards for customer treatment.

Know your customer segments and how their needs vary

Especially where resources are tight, you will want to cluster your
customers by how much revenue they generate and their profitability.
From these clusters, you should identify commonalities in what they need
from you. The intention is never to under-serve those with lesser
profitability potential – but you must absolutely be aware of those
power players on whom your livelihood may be most dependent. Once you
know these clusters, you can come up with creative ways for serving them
– allocating resources in sync with financial outcomes. For example,
you may have a wide number of smaller customers who, rather than sending
out an individual to call on them separately, can be brought together
for a networking event that benefits them all and reduces your cost for
servicing them.

Give the front line the training, support and tools to do their job

The frontline is the company to your customers. The frontline is anyone
who speaks to customers – this is not the place to cut costs. Ensure
that you allocate ample resources to ensure that they have what they
need to give your customers what they need. This means ample
communication from you (that won’t cost a thing), but also the right
training, skill development and technology resources. There’s nothing
worse, for example, than putting a customer through watching their sales
representative struggle with slow response time or inadequate support
materials, or listening to a service operator struggling with a system
to find customer information.

Conduct a quarterly customer loss review meeting

This is a potent profit management technique you can begin today. To
prep for this meeting, compile the data on customer defections so that
you know which customers you lost and why. In addition, assign your key
lieutenants to make outbound calls to up to ten customers who have left
during the month or quarter to find you why they left. There’s nothing
quite as compelling as a customer speaking right to someone who has
accountability for making something happen. Customers are often so
amazed by the effort that they consider trying the company again. After
the calls have been completed, convene the meeting to discuss what’s
happening with your customers and what is driving them away. In that
meeting get alignment on how to prioritize the issues and assign
accountability. Use subsequent loss review meetings to track progress on
resolving issues, continuing the process of calling customers who
defected.

Keep track of your customers

Find a way to figure out how to constantly track , actively discuss, and
manage these five things about your customers. This is called
“Guerrilla Metrics”. They help you power the customer onto the agenda of
your business: 1) New customers: volume and value; 2) Lost customers:
volume and value; 3) Renewals with reasons; 4) Revenue and profitability
by customer group; and 5) Referrals by customer group.

All in all, take the actions that are good for your customers. Make
clear decisions that put the customer first and then let everyone know
what they are – customers, suppliers, and most importantly, your
company.



Jeanne Bliss is the founder of CustomerBLISS (www.customerbliss.com ); a
consulting and coaching company helping corporations connect their
efforts to yield improved customer growth. She is a world-wide speaker
on the subject. Jeanne spent twenty-five years at Lands’ End,
Microsoft, Allstate, Coldwell Banker, and Mazda corporations as the
leader for driving customer focus and customer growth. Her best-selling
books are; Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to
Passionate Action, and I Love You More than My Dog: Five Decisions for
Extreme Customer Loyalty in Good Times and Bad. Go to
www.customerbliss.com to get a reality check audit on your customer
commitment and ability to make customers an asset of your business.