Emotions are the common thread that bind humans beings. And it is those very same emotions that are guiding each and every customers experience specific to the points of connection. Again, points of connection are everything your customers see, hear, touch, smell, taste and feel.
Extensive customer service research by Rosenberg has shown customer behavior can be predicted by emotions. According to Yu and Dean in 2001, they determined that “The impact of emotions is the best predictor of customer loyalty in the customer interaction process.”
During the last almost 40 years in business, I have spoken with numerous clients and colleagues who shared their own emotional experiences with me specific to bad customer service. One sharing including visiting a newly opened restaurant and the owner turned away not only this gentleman and his wife, but a family of 5. The owner decided to close early for the day.
Now anyone in the restaurant businesses knows opening a restaurant is difficult at best. This owner’s attitude of closing early started a cascade of negative emotions. For this customer who experienced a problem (he wanted his need of hunger to be satisfied) that was not resolved is telling a lot of people about his negative emotional experience and he assured me he would never go back to this eating establishment. Lost customer value of 10 years was probably more than $6,000.
Whether the sign states “all employees must wash their hands” to the actual hours of operation, the messages delivered by those signs have established a point of connection with your customer. Your customers do not want to hear (point of connection) excuses.
TAKE ACTION: If you want to leverage the strategic advantage within customer loyalty, then everyone in your organization needs to understand the specific points of connection within the customer experience. Then written goals must be established to strengthen those customer experience connections unless you want a lot of emotionally dissatisfied customers sharing their bad experiences with all of your other potential new customers that you just lost.
Each day thousands of business owners and executives read their profits and loss statements, financial records to sales reports to confirm they are on the road to business success. Searching and scanning for increases in sales, orders and profits while hoping for decreases in cost of goods sold or other direct costs as well as indirect costs. Yet, through all this, they are limiting their opportunities for additional success because they are probably missing one figure that never shows up on financial reports.
And, do you know what that number is? And the answer is:
Was that the answer in your head? Did you think of something else?
Since this figure is not clearly articulated in any of the traditional reporting metrics, what happens is that current problems are really symptoms in disguise. And then the solutions do not deliver sustainable change because the real problem is not addressed.
For example does your small to mid size business suffer from:
Lackluster sales problems?
These are just a few of the many symptoms facing most businesses because they fail to understand the purpose of business and hence business success comes from:
Attracting and Maintaining Customers
Customer loyalty or rather the lack of customer loyalty is the real issue. When businesses realize that:
5% retention in customers can create an increase of anywhere from 25% to 100%
To acquire a new customer costs 5 to 10 times more than keeping an existing one
Up to 75% of those customers who left you considered themselves to be satisfied
They may leave the 20th century model of customer satisfaction and embrace the 21st century paradigm of customer loyalty as the other critical measurement to business success. The rise of customer retention is probably why sales enablement has become so critical to many B2C and B2B organizations.
To take such bold action requires them to know the following:
Average client acquisition cost
Average client value
Average transaction value
Total Revenue Opportunity (based upon lifetime of customer)
Customer Loyalty Score
Employee Loyalty Score
When these metrics have been established and a plan of action has been constructed from the Senior Executive Management Team that will cascade down through the organization, measuring relationships will become much easier. And, the business will have a much clearer picture of what it truly takes for business success.
TAKE ACTION Think about both your profits and relationships. What kind of metrics or benchmarks can you establish to ensure that you are measuring both?
How many times do you tell yourself that you are just too busy to take the time to do whatever you need to do to work ON your business? You begin to justify your last minute behavior also know as procrastination. Over the course of time, you convince yourself that you work well under pressure, that you can handle anything and this leads you down the path of expending your time on yesterday’s and today’s problems.
Scheduling time is all about having a planning attitude. Given that attitudes according to Zig Ziglar are habits of thought, most people in business have not learned how to plan their work or work their plan. The number of small business owners who lack strategic action plans confirms this ongoing attitude. These individuals are engaged in flying by the seat of their pants or what I call being the Captain Wing-Its of their businesses.
Imagine for a moment you are sitting on a plane and hear the following:
Good morning ladies and gentlemen. From the flight deck, this is Captain Wing-It. Welcome aboard Fly High Airlines flight number 135 heading for sunny Bermuda…or are we flight number 351 en route to the Bahamas? You know, we’ve been very busy around here the last few days and haven’t had a chance to file the flight plan just yet. Oh well, I’m sure we can figure it out! Rumor has it that we’re in for a bumpy ride. We will eventually be departing from one of the available runways and flying in that direction for a while. It’s unclear at this time which runway we’ll be using and in which direction we’ll be flying. So sit back, relax and enjoy the flight…and again, thank you for flying Fly High Airlines…your sometimes on-time, on-course, on-purpose airline.
Would you feel comfortable flying on this plane? Are you thinking don’t close the door, let me out? Why are you having these thoughts?
TAKE ACTION Think about your small business or business related activities. Most people admit to wasting at least 12 minutes a day. Take those 12 minutes and reinvest them by working on your business unless you enjoy being Captain Wing-It!
Do you have a time management problem in your selling efforts? Are you running out of time as you balance work with your personal life? Have you tried time management training, seeking time management tips or reading time management articles and books? And you still have a problem?
Guess what? You are not alone. This is because time management is not about time management but rather about self management through planning and goal setting. Please let me explain.
Why are you managing time? Because you made commitments to do that or be here. In other words, you made promises based upon your sales and business goals within your strategic plan. If you did not have these goals, would you have a time management problem? Probably, not.
Take a moment to envision a triangle. The bottom two thirds of the triangle are all of your goals. The top one third is time management. Do you see how time management is really the apex of goal setting and goal achievement?
If time management is a problem, my first question is have you committed all of your business and sales goals to writing? Then the next question are those goals aligned to your overall strategic action plan or action plans? Finally, are these goals yours or someone else’s? If they belong to someone else, do you think that maybe you are resisting achieving them? Would that not affect how your use your time?
Speaking of your plan, does it include a Purpose, Vision, a Values and a Mission statement? These core foundational statements are extremely necessary when scheduling your time as well as using time. Returning to the earlier diagram, the core foundational statements are between your goals and your time management.
When you have all four foundational statements, you can reduce the time that you spend on decision making. If something comes across your desk that is not in alignment with your core foundational statements, you can quickly discard it and not waste those precious minutes pondering “Should I or should I not?”.
TAKE ACTION: Stop believing it is a time management problem. For as Pogo so eloquently said: “I meet the enemy and he is us.” Next you need to invest some time into planning your selling activities and overall business success. Finally, if you do not utilize a proven goal setting and goal achievement process, find one to work with your business and sales action plan. Then and only then, will you get unleash your selling time and receive even greater results from the same amount of time.
Do you waste 12 minutes a day as you are conducting your daily sales activities? Be honest. If you are honest with yourself, the time wasted each day probably exceeds just 12 minutes. Ongoing workplace time use and workforce productivity research suggests employees continue to waste a lot of time.
What is all that wasted time costing your ability to increase sales? Maybe you are thinking, it’s just 12 minutes a day, not much.
By doing some simple math, 12 minutes a day equals 1 hour a week and this translates into 52 hours per year or over a solid week of productivity. Now that the picture is much bigger, what is that costing you?
If you are a sales leader and value your time, then you should be worth at least $100 an hour or $5,200 annually given all that expertise. Even if you believe you are only worth $50 an hour that still adds up to $2,600 each year. If you know how much time it takes to close a sale, then do that math. How many more sales could you achieve in 52 hours?
What can you do as a sales leader for yourself to reinvest those lost minutes into productive ones? Here are some simple strategies from which you can take action:
Eliminate unnecessary conversations and time wasters including social media. Be intentional in all your actions.
Review your sales goals daily, weekly and monthly.
Set a schedule and review your schedule daily. Use a CRM tool as you review your activities.
Use agendas for meetings with your sales management or other colleagues. Without agendas, meeting time becomes a lot of lost minutes. Do not allow any new items that come from the discussion. Table them for the next meeting. Keep personal issues out of the meeting. This one strategy helped one of my clients consistently increase revenue by 20-25% annually.
Model as a sales leader the desired behavior. Respect the time of your colleagues and your customers. For example, let your sales prospect know that you only want 30 minutes of his or her time.
Align your time to your sales goals. If you goal is to secure one new sales lead from your regular chamber to civic meetings, then make sure you achieve that goal. Do not waste time visiting with people that you know. You must first be accountable before you expect others to be accountable.
To improve business results, many organizations use the SWOT analysis. For many years I have used a revised SLOT analysis when it comes to ensuring people secure the desired results.
Today, the word disruption is very much in evidence through the business and even personal worlds. The combination of algorithms and technology continue to disrupt how business has been conducted. Maybe it is time to move forward and look at business results through a different analysis tool.
HOLD – A New Analysis Tool
When people within organizations start engaging in improving business results, the ultimate goal is to take HOLD of the entire organization. Individuals within the organization must also take HOLD of their own results.
H – Health – What is the health of the organization or individual? This allows the organization as well as the individual to assess beyond the financial records to other critical elements especially attitudes, emotional intelligence and organizational culture. More and more research confirms emotional intelligence and organizational culture have far greater influence than many executives realize.
O – Opportunities – Where are the current and future opportunities for sustainable, profitable growth? With the qualified labor pool continuing to shrink, now is the time to look at opportunities to keep loyal employees and loyal customers.
L – Limitations – What limitations are restricting the health and opportunities of the organization or the individual?
D – Disruption – What disruption has happened in the marketplace and its impact on the organization or individual? Where is there a possibility for more disruption such as artificial intelligence?
Yes the SWOT analysis is a good tool. The inherent problem is people are conditioned to the tool and in many instances viable data, facts and information are overlooked.
Change in the marketplace continues to happen at what appears to be the speed of light. To stay at least with the flow and hopefully ahead of the flow demands new ways of thinking for those who wish to change and improve their business results.
Almost two weeks into the New Year and is procrastination starting to rear its ugly head? You know what I mean those “I’ll do it tomorrow” thoughts.
Years ago during a workshop, one of my clients shared that her greatest obstacle to business success was her inability to:
Honor her commitments,
Do what she know she needed to do
Put things off until tomorrow
Her greatest obstacle to business success was consistent with the other responses that I have received during the last 20 years.
From my perspective, to procrastinate reveals a victim mentality belief rather than being a behavior. Of course, many might bristle when I suggest that such behavior is an excuse, but in reality is it not?
The word procrastinate has Latin origins. “Pro” means forward and “cras” means tomorrow. Ultimately, this means to defer to taking action now and taking action tomorrow.
Sometimes to procrastinate might be a good thing. For example, a person lacked the necessary time to think through a current decision at hand. Yet for many, the issue of procrastination is more about the unwillingness to take action and then to make an excuse for this belief. For indecision is a decision and is totally within the control of each individual.
For example, how many people in business procrastinate (take no action) because they have no plan? Most small business owners fly by the seat of their pants or by the spray and pray mentality (spray it on the wall and pray it sticks). And if they do have a plan, they leave it on the shelf or in the desk drawer and think about getting to it later.
Procrastination becomes the excuse not to build your business. Don Wilder once stated that:
“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.”
For example, I know of many small business owners to sales professionals who actively attend chamber of commerce events to local civic organizations’ meetings. Anywhere from 1.5 hour to 3 hours are spent several times a week at the same meetings with the same people.
Yet, how much new business did they secure? How many new leads have they uncovered?
For these individuals would rather procrastinate about doing what they really need to do to grow their businesses rather than take action to schedule a solid business appointment with a prospect. Business networking is great provided you are realizing measurable results that turn into sales. If not, then you need to fish in some new ponds.
TAKE ACTION procrastination is one of your business issues. Look to supporting beliefs. Listen to the excuses that you are making for your behaviors. Ask yourself are you being a victim to your own thoughts?
Many small to mid size businesses cannot answer this question: What is the total value of each loyal customer? For these SMB owners are so busy working on yesterday’s issues and today’s issues, they fail to invest the time on tomorrow’s opportunities.
To calculate this very important number begins by understanding your average revenue per order and knowing the total number of orders per year per customer. By multiplying these two numbers creates your total revenue opportunities per year for your average customer.
Next take your total revenue opportunities multiplied by the average tenure of your customer and you now have your total value of a loyal customer.
For example, you are a small, locally owned restaurant and the average breakfast meal is $6.00 and your customers visit you 2 times a week or 104 times a year for annual total revenue opportunity of $624. Your average tenure or lifetime for your customer is 10 years. Total value of that customer is $6,240.
When that customer stops coming, you have not lost $12 a week, but $6,240. This is why building loyal customers is so critical to your bottom line.
Here is another real world example. My husband and I go out for dinner usually once a week. Twice a month we frequented a locally owned restaurant that consistently delivered good food. During one of our visits, my husband visited the men’s facility and observed a cook not washing his hands. Upon returning to the table, he quietly shared with me the incident and we left.
On our way out, my husband took the manager outside and politely explained what had happened. Even though the manager did try to resolve the problem, we both know that individuals who fail to wash their hands will not change their behaviors. Impact to that restaurant was easily $25,000 over the course of 10 years because usually once a month another couple joined us.
TAKE ACTION to make sure that everyone from the executive team to the frontline workers understand all points of connection. Demonstrate the financial impact when just one loyal customer is lost because a simple point of connection such as the staff not washing their hands was not maximized.
Building customer loyalty must address unsolved problems aka customer complaints. Take a moment to think about a problem that you had with a product or service provider such as a hospital, a retail store or a new car dealership.
Was your customer complaint or problem resolved to YOUR expectations or was it resolved to the provider’s satisfaction? How did you feel when the complaint was resolved within your expectations? Probably, pretty good and you may have even told some of your friends.
If that problem was not resolved to your expectations, how did you feel? Just the opposite, angry, frustrated and can’t wait to share this miserable customer service experience with the first person who will listen and commensurate with you in your misery?
Now think about your customers and their unresolved problems. When those problems are not resolved, they can become like quicksand. You don’t know the quicksand is there until you step down and suddenly your entire body is being pulled into this gooey mire.
Unresolved customer complaints, for the most part, can be easily solved provided that everything from policies, procedures to systems are in alignment. What causes unresolved problems to stay unresolved is that employees do not have
Customer loyalty attitudes
Authority to resolve problems
If employees truly believe that their attitudes will either make or break customer loyalty while knowing the overall corporate goals, they are more inclined to create incredible points of connection.
For example, I attend a conference at a hotel three times a year. This conference brings at least $100,000 annually to the hotel. Each morning there is a breakfast buffet to quickly serve the 150 guests. I do not like the breakfast buffet. The hotel could force me to take it or leave it (that’s our policy, you have heard that before), but the morning waitress remembers my special breakfast order even though I am only there 3 times a year. A potential unresolved problem is immediately solved. Am I a loyal customer? Absolutely!
CUSTOMER LOYALTY TAKE ACTION ITEM: By setting a goal to resolve 100% of all problems to your customers’ expectations during the next 90 days. Measure the results. You should find an increase in revenue because you have dramatically increased customer loyalty.
To develop customer loyalty means that you must know what to do and probably change your paradigms. Loyal customers have different expectations than just satisfied ones.
Customer Loyalty Coaching Tip: The digital disruption will impact your paradigms about loyal customers.
To learn your customers’ expectations begins with the management team. Senior management needs to identify the points of connection within the customers’ experiences. Points of connection are anything that customers can see, feel, smell, taste or hear. Literally walking through the organization is a very simple way to locate the many points of connection.
Also, management needs to determine what a loyal customer is worth over the average customer lifetime. For example, a satisfied customer visits a local retailer four times a year and spends an average of $50. This customer is worth $200. A loyal customer visits the same store, spends $50 weekly and her value climbs to $2,600 annually.
Now consider those customers shop the same store in the same manner for 10 years. The satisfied customer has a total customer value of $2,000 while the loyal customer is worth $26,000. This calculation quickly demonstrates how just a 5% retention in customers can create a 25 to 100% increase in profitability.
Some retail stores such as automotive to industries such as lodging have extensive data about their customers and understand the overall value every potential customer brings to their establishment.
Then a customer service survey can be created to reflect these points of connections as well as other issues such as unresolved problems. When this information is compiled, then a customer loyalty strategic plan can be developed to ensure that all actions are aligned to the goal of developing loyal customers.
Of course, employees also need to be trained and developed to embrace a customer loyalty philosophy while shedding the old one of customer satisfaction. This customer service training should have them also identify points of connection and understand the critical goal of problem resolution.
TAKE ACTION to make every customer experience is the best. Begin with a organizational assessment that is aligned to a continuous improvement process. Then take time to identify the critical points of connection.
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