Most customers simply go somewhere else when they’re fed up. But why do they get fed up? One study reported that 7 out of 10 people who left a business and went to a competitor did so because of “perceived indifference.” In other words, they went to the competitor because they didn’t feel valued as a customer.
So what’s the solution?
The first thing to do is to start measuring your customer defection rate. That is to say, what percentage of your customers stopped doing business with you last year? And what can you do to reduce that defection rate?
According to Frederick Reichheld, it is common for a business to lose 15% to 20% of its customers each year. Simply cutting defections in half will more than double the average company’s growth rate.
What you can measure, you can manage.
The next thing to do is to hold what we call a Customer Advisory Board. Customer Advisory Boards are not research-based, report-generating, expensive things. They are gut-to-gut communications. Specifically, mouth-to-ear communications…their mouths to your ears!
And that’s the whole point.
Very simply, at a Customer Advisory Board, you or an independent person (like your trusted CPA) meets with 6 to 10 of your clients to talk…about your business. About the service they’ve received. About what they like and what they’re not so happy with. About what your business could do to really improve. And about what the ideal business of your type would do for them.
A Customer Advisory Board gives your clients a chance to tell you ‘what’s what’ in an incredibly constructive environment. An environment, where, if you do it right, they will tell you lots and lots of the ‘little things’ you could do to make your business really stand out from your competitors.
And all you have to do…is listen to them!
It takes just one client to mention something that gives you a ‘blinding flash’ of the obvious. It can really make a difference to your business.
Your customers know what they want and what you could do to really offer them the best service possible…so why not hear it from the horse’s mouth?
Better yet, your customers are what you want more of, aren’t they? So why not ask them what’s really important to them? Why not ask them what they think about the way you do business, what you do, and then address the issues they suggest so that your business becomes the best in its field? The best in the field based not on what we think is important, but on what really matters—what the customers (the ones we want more of) really want!
The fact is, if someone has something negative to say, probably dozens of others feel the same way. These people won’t tell you they’re not happy. They’ll just move on to your competitors. Given that, it’s much better to bite the bullet, find out what they have to say, good and bad—and then do something about it.
Almost every time a Customer Advisory Board is held, the business is given simple, new ideas that really are easy to implement and make a world of difference.
So here’s my challenge to you.
Work with your customers to find out what they really want from you. And find out how well you are delighting them.
And then do something with the information you get!
So that you can become the “business of choice” in your industry.
Paul Svendsen is a Certified Public Accountant with an office in Bend at 549 SW Mill View Way, Suite 202. He can be reached at 389-4740 or at PaulSvend@aol.com.