You, me and business: Put your customers first

Dana Schroeder

By DANA SCHROEDER

CEO, SCC Chamber

To me, nothing symbolizes frustration quite as much as watching someone try to free their new purchase from its plastic packaging. Nothing short of vice grips and a blow torch will get that stuff off of a new razor, a thumb drive or an economy-sized tower of vitamins.

No doubt you’ve wrestled with products that are impossible to pry open, electronic device tags even the clerk at Walmart can’t remove and hotdogs that come in packages of eight coupled with buns that come in packages of 10. Why do companies do this? Because they’re so focused on what is important to them that they don’t consider what’s important to you.

How do you keep your business from falling into the customer unfriendly trap?

Think about your product or service as if you were purchasing it. If you can’t do the mental switch, ask someone or several someones to do it for you. You need the customer’s perspective to make your product work.

You want my business? Before you can sell me anything, you have to know what my needs and wants are. Ask me questions to determine which of your products and services I need. Makeup for oily skin will not work on my dry skin. Likewise, I don’t need a massive all-the-bells-and-whistles washing machine for myself.

Make it easy for me to understand what you sell. You know your products, but I don’t. Talk to me in layman’s terms so I truly know what you can do for me. But don’t tell me too much. Have you ever read a book and then gone to see the movie? Often, the movie was not at all what you expected. The characters don’t look at all like you imagined them, or do the sets resemble what your mind conjured up. If you give me too many details of your product, they won’t match what I envision the answer to my needs to be. Let my mind create my own impression and fill in the gaps.

If purchasing what you are selling takes too much of an effort, I will go elsewhere, even if what I end up with costs more or isn’t exactly what I wanted. Make it easy for me to do business with you. Make sure I have ways to contact you; come to me instead of making me come to you; make your website user-friendly. If you are Mary Kay, deliver my product to me instead of asking me to come to your home to pick it up.

Make it easy for me to use your products. Make sure I have all the tools to use your product. Is some assembly required? You do it. Will I need batteries? Provide them. Does it utilize a clock? Set it.

Make it easy for me to return your products. It happens. If you make this process easy for me, I won’t become an unsatisfied customer who quits doing business with you.

Are you doing all this? Fantastic. Then I want to do business with you. Now, what do you have that I need?

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