Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Your customer is king

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     It's obvious. With customers, you can thrive and grow. Without them, you are headed downhill.

     Much has been said about customers. How to get them. How to make them happy. How to keep them coming back--and referring others.

     Customers are the reason you do a business plan. They are the market you are targeting. Customers are fundamental to any success.

     Example: In my own first business, my focus was on making my customers happy. The business was graphic arts/printing, and I gave out my home telephone number to all comers. I knew that they would need me day or night, and I wanted to be there for them. Few called me at home, but several did. The most important call came on Easter Sunday morning. The head of a major company/client needed a printed booklet delivered the next morning--an early Monday meeting had been called and he wanted to provide printed materials. I quickly gathered my team, and we delivered what he wanted to his boardroom by 7 a.m. the next morning. It meant working most of the night, but when I subsequently handed him the invoice, he thanked me and paid it right away. It was for a large amount, and we enjoyed a long term relationship for years. He also referred many others to me.

     Customers have problems of their own. Your business is best served when you solve their problems, on their terms, and in their time frame.

     Example: An attorney was engaged by a lady to draw up her will. She had some unusual requests, and the attorney listened patiently. But instead of leading the client through the problems, the attorney saw an opportunity to draw out the situation and increase his fees. He suggested a series of meetings to sort through all the details. This might have helped his cash flow, but the client saw it as annoying. She also suspected his true intentions. He lost a client that day--not only for the will, but for some large property transfers she subsequently made.

     Customers are not dummies. They come to you with a problem which they expect you to solve--whether it's to buy a dozen cookies or make that neck pain go away. They don't come to you to be manipulated.

     Successful business people keep focused on the customer. When you give them what they want, their loyalty will solve your problems. 

     Some customers can be annoying. Know the difference between the one you want to refer to your competition and the one who can be a future advantage to you and your business. 

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