Entries in Customer Service (2)

Friday
Apr022010

Customers Always Right?

Hopefully, you see the irony in this video.  In these real life customer service situations, some of the shenanigans that clients try to pull on us every day seem quite ridiculous.  The video store, restaurant and hair salon are all businesses as well, but most people would never dream about trying to contest the price of a menu item.  You ordered the steak, knowing what it would cost, and you pay for it before you leave.

So why, in other business situations, are these client behaviors considered acceptable?  We may not like it when a client behaves in this way, but most of the time, we grin and bear it.

Recently, a client asked me to write a media kit for him.  Prior to beginning the project, I gave him a quote of the project cost and he agreed.  Upon receiving the first draft, he reviewed the text, made a few revisions and we were done.  When it came time for him to pay the invoice, he fought and argued, saying my work wasn't worth what he had agreed to pay.  Thinking he wasn't pleased with what we did, I asked him what he meant.

"I like what you did, but it didn't take as many revisions as I thought it would.  So shouldn't your quote be reduced?," he asked.

While not all marketers work on a per project basis, we do.  He wasn't paying me by the hour, but for the finished project, no matter how long it took.  When I reminded him of this, he continued to push, convinced I should lower the price.

In a world of heavy competition and in a struggling economy, maybe we should always have the attitude that the customer is always right.  I would bring up a different point, however.  I believe that our businesses will suffer if we don't stick to our guns.  I've traveled that slippery slope before with a client - she asks for an inch, and then takes a mile, and expects similar concessions with every project in the future.

The simplest, and really the only solution, is to work with your clients diligently, managing their expectations from the beginning of your relationship together.  And politely stick to your guns.  If you agreed to a certain price, do yourself a favor, and stick to it.  Only make concessions if they're necessary- as in, you screwed something up.

You will loose a client or two along the way.  That's not fun, but ultimately, you will end up having happier client relationships with people who do respect what you do, and are willing to pay you a fair price for your services.

Tuesday
Feb092010

"Where is the New Customer?..."

I love my dad.  He's a salesman through and through, and I blame my salesperson personality completely on him.  When he runs across useful information or valuable insight pertaining to our chosen profession, he always passes it my way.  This morning, he sent me an article Jeffery Gittomer wrote a few months back. 

"Where is the New Customer?  He's in the New World... Are You?"

The customer is making a comeback - slow though it may be. And when he (or she) returns, you're going to notice a change. A big change. FAIR WARNING: How you prepare for the new customer will determine your long-term success.

REALITY: While your customers were away, online has officially taken over. It's the new showroom and comparison shopper. You can chat, or phone in a heartbeat. You can see every option and some you never knew existed. It's fast, it's accurate, and anyone can choose anything, any time of the day or night.

Yes, the Internet has been there for a few years, but it has taken a firm hold as a trillion dollar option for consumers and customers every place in the world. Your world.

It's a different world now. We are not going to "recover," per-se. We're going to revive and revise. And you can be in it, or watch it pass you by.

Here are some examples of "different" on the business side. Car dealerships, stock brokerages, insurance companies, banks, homebuilders, commercial real estate agents, residential real estate agents, and mortgage lenders have all revised and restructured their business - and that's the short list.

And the customer is different too. Way different.

Let me give you the details of what the new customer (both business and consumer) looks like: (NOTE: I'm using "he" but I also mean "she.")
* He's going to decide somewhat slower. He's been hesitating for more than a year.
* He's angry about the value of his home, and the value of his investments.
* He will not be doing business the same way it's been done before.
* He will not be banking the same way he banked before.
* He will not be advertising the same way he advertised before.
* He will not be buying a car the same way he did before.
* He will not be buying a home the same way he did before.
* He will not be investing the same way he did before.
* He's online. Checking out your website - and your competitor's website.
* He's socializing. Telling everyone what's happening in his world and the world.
* He's Tweeting, Facebooking, and Linked-In-ing. Social media is still a firestorm.
* He's blogging about his experiences with you, for the world to read.
* He's YouTubing about his experiences with you for the world to watch - by the millions (any questions United Airlines?).
* He's Googling, not yellow-paging.
* He's texting. A lot.
* He's using his mobile device to do damn near everything.
* He's WiFi-ing in his hotel room, on the plane, in Starbucks, and at home.
* IF he's reading a paper, or getting the news, it's online.
* He's as likely to watch The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, or listen to Howard Stern for news as he is to watch a network "news" person read a tele-prompter.
* He's purchasing after midnight. By the billions.
* He's looking for ease of doing business with you.
* He is value oriented, but will look to price as part of the decision.
* He wants a relationship.
* He wants, needs, and expects GREAT service after the sale.
* He does not want to wait for anything or anyone.
* He needs help and expert advice.
* He's looking for ideas and answers.
* He can check your price and your facts in two seconds or less on Google.
* He knows as much about your product as you do.
* He knows MORE about your competitor's product than you do.
* He can pay right now IF you can take a credit card online.
* He expects someone to answer the phone when he calls that can actually HELP.
* He is SICK of off-shore call centers, erroneously called "help desks."
* He is SICK of you telling him how important his call is while he stands on hold.
* He is SICK of your recorded hold message.
* He demands the truth. All the time.
* He no longer trusts the institutions he used to hold sacred.
* He expects you to be as computer literate as he is.
* He needs to be understood and feel your sincere concern.
* While you are qualifying him, he is qualifying you.
* If he needs a referral or recommendation, he'll go to Craig's list or Angie's list or Google or his next door neighbor, or anyone else but you...UNLESS you have video testimonials online.

As you're thinking about (and making excuses about) these statements, you better be thinking about your answers and responses to them. And you better be making the strategic decisions and game plans to make them happen.

The economy is coming back - BUT NOT TO THE WAY IT WAS. Don't take my word for it. Ask any daily newspaper.

After reviewing these statements, ask yourself this BIG question: Will your new customer buy from you, or your competition?
_______________________________________________

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Little Red Book of Selling and eight other business books on sales, customer loyalty, and personal development. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on sales, customer loyalty, and personal development at www.trainone.com. Jeffrey conducts more than 100 personalized, customized seminars and keynotes a year. To find out more, visit http://www.trainone.com. Jeffrey can be reached at 704.333.1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com

©2009 All Rights Reserved - Don't even think about reproducing this document without
written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer, Inc • 704/333-1112