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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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10 Simple Principles to Grow the Perfect Business

1 - Becoming a successful entrepreneur 3

Dream vs. reality 3

Lead with passion and humility 3

2 - Get in the Zone and get moving 4

The unthinkable will occur 4

Solutions become clear 4

Stop waiting for the right time 5

3 - Blueprint your business 5

Define your purpose 5

Set goals 5

Put your vision in writing 6

4 - Systemise everything 6

Systems are the solutions to problems 7

Systems are the magic formula for success 7

Start creating systems today 8

Stage 1 - Design the system 8

Stage 2 - Develop the System 8

Stage 3 - Deploy the System 8

5 - Manage by the numbers 9

Discover the true value of accounting 9

Counting vs, accountability 10

Strategic information leads to financial control 10

6 - Become an obsessed marketer 11

Understand the industry 11

Follow proven marketing principles 11

Be the master of your own success 12

7 - Differentiate or die 13

What is innovation? 13

How do you innovate? 14

8 - Convert with “killer customer care” 15

Give the best customer service 15

Use systems to meet our expectations 15

Surprise and delight us 16

Ask our opinion 16

Practice the golden rule 16

9 - Get the right people 17

Serviceable employees make routines remarkable 18

Self-motivated workers get into the winners circle 18

Hire the best 18

Prepare for the interview 19

Work the interview 19

10 - Make your business a game and keep score 20

Make it a game 20

Keep score 21

Manager-coaches drive success 22

Empower with ownership 22

Give frequent feedback 22

Celebrate victories 23

Pay the price 23

Accept the risk 23

Muster the will 24

Work hard and intelligently 24

Beware 24

Five Steps To Immediately Make Changes 25

Summarise your target customer 25

What are the limiting factors of your business? 26

Create a time-value matrix 26

Create a one-page quarterly action plan 26

Ask for help 27

1 - Becoming a successful entrepreneur

Not long ago a  financial planner friend of mine said, “I think I am going to quit my job and start a business.”

“What kind of business?” I inquired.

“Oh, I'm not sure yet. I just want to make a lot of money and have more free time,” he responded.

I wish it were that easy! Small business owners, including myself, engage in entrepreneurial games in the most challenging vocational arena. It takes the heart of an Olympic champion, the courage of a Mt. Everest climber, and the determination of Rocky Balboa to survive even a few rounds as a small business owner.

Dream vs. reality

We all start with a similar dream. We want to be independent and perhaps make more money than we would by working a job for someone else. We have some special talent or product that we think others will beat down our door to get.

Then we discover, like those who have gone before, that owning a business is a lot of work.

The moment we begin our enterprise, unrelenting forces start into motion to drive us out of business.

Even when we make profit, it is often hard to know exactly where it is. Profit has a way of ending up as inventory collecting dust on a shelf, or in a growing accounts receivable balance, or as a new piece of equipment. Taxes usually take half of what we can cling to, and it doesn't easily make it into the pockets of owners and stakeholders.

Sustaining a small business over the years requires great expertise and discipline. If you have a college education, it probably doesn't help much because you likely didn't graduate in accounting, marketing, human resource or computer technology. But now you must be informed and competent in all of these areas.

Some of the greatest people I know perform miracles daily to deliver quality products and service to their customers. There are a lot of negative things said about business, but from my point of view, you are heroes and your efforts help us all to have the best quality of life in the world.

Lead with passion and humility

We are about to begin discussing “10 Simple Principles to Grow the Perfect Business” Effective and persistent leadership is required to carry out these steps. You are the person who must provide the vision and drive to make your business successful. These 10 steps will get you firmly on the road to success.

In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins describes what makes good companies great. He says that the best leaders have a “paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves … They attribute success to factors other than themselves. However, when things go poorly, they look in the mirror and take full responsibility.”

The life-work you choose is to grow a remarkable and financially prosperous business! You can do it in 10 simple steps, so let's get started.

2 - Get in the Zone and get moving

Your business will never give you what you want until you get off the phone, out of meetings, away from the office, and into a quiet "Zone" where illumination, inspiration, and imagination produce a panoramic view of new possibilities for innovation!

When you get moving in this Zone your business will progress at warp speed. You will begin to see your business as your "product." You will "work on the business, not just in the business" (Michael Gerber, E-Myth Revisited), and in doing so, you will begin to develop and achieve your life goals.

Stepping into the Zone is the first step to growing your perfect business. For a little time each day or week, leave all your administrative tasks and daily routine behind. Instead, you must concentrate on the most important task of all—building permanent value into your business.

The unthinkable will occur

In the Zone, you will be at the highest state of human performance and productivity. Something almost miraculous happens with your mind and emotions. You become energized. You function on a higher plane of clarity, creativity, and competence. You are more sensitive, insightful, and intuitive.

You will hunger for knowledge and read books written by business masters, seeking all truth that can deepen your understanding and broaden your vision. You will think about your customers, employees, and business processes. You will "dream the impossible dream" and map out the path to its fulfillment.

Solutions become clear

In the Zone, you immediately come face to face with the brutal facts of why your business isn't all it can be. You will see specific things you can do now to solve problems, improve business processes, fuel growth, and plan for the future.

You will be open to a flood of brilliant ideas. You will set priorities and concentrate single-mindedly on one thing at a time, producing an abundance of innovative solutions in a short period. Your desire to take action on these new ideas will become urgent.

You will bring a revitalized spirit to your business. Your employees will catch on fire. Your customers will take notice. The more time you spend, the faster your company will reach optimum performance levels.

Stop waiting for the right time

Remember, your constant burn of physical and emotional energy at the business leaves little energy for the mental and creative tasks required to work on the business. Get away now. Find a quiet place at home with a computer and a closed door.

The best time to enter the Zone is early morning when all energy levels are up and when inspiration and creativity seem to flow; spend two hours if you can. You will likely start with some time constraints. Don't worry. Your time in the Zone will increase as your business transforms.

Create a blueprint of your perfect” business—a business you can be proud of, that will provide a good living, run itself profitably, and help you get what you want from life.

3 - Blueprint your business

A panoramic view will open up, allowing you to see your life more vividly than ever before. In the absence of noise and commotion you will almost immediately come face-to-face with the most fundamental questions, and you'll know where to begin.

Define your purpose

Your success depends on two things—knowing exactly what you want and paying the price to get it. You must begin by clearly defining your life purpose and the prices you'll pay to reach your mission.

For each person this will be different. But many people are drawn to a life of purpose, of service, of building, growing, improving something important to them. Real purpose and motivation spring from a deep love of someone or something.

The true purpose of your business, then, is to help you achieve personal and financial freedom so that you can accomplish your life purpose.

Set goals

Successful entrepreneurs are intensely goal-oriented. They always achieve more than those without goals. They know what they want and are focused single-mindedly on getting it, every day.

Goals set the direction, the distance, the pace, and the point of completion. In the game of work, the goal must be clear and the coaches must use every intelligent strategy to achieve it. They adapt the game plan to changing conditions but continually keep their eye on the goal line.

While in the Zone, creative thinking is stimulated by the intense desire to reach goals and solve pressing problems. Your mind generates ideas and solutions consistent with those goals. The business begins to transform first in your mind and then on paper. Your ideal business becomes a reality.

Once you know your life purpose and have a vision of what the “finished product” of your business will look like, you roll up your sleeves and get to work on the specifics. Focus on the key areas of the business first, where there is the biggest payoff. “You plan your work and work your plan.” A small amount of time in planning will save a huge amount of time in implementation.

You also must identify specific areas for improvement and then go to work to create processes and systems that produce a more desired outcome. You put in writing the policies and procedures that employees must follow to get the best result every time. You evaluate performance and modify for improvement.

Remember, a "wish" is a goal that hasn't been written down. When creating your goals, make sure they are:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Realistic

Time specific.

In a business, planning and goal setting ultimately become financial in nature. Good financial statements let you know where you're at and how you're progressing. Focus on specific line items of the statement, and adjust accordingly.

Every problem has a solution. Every solution can be found in a system. The pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together — every piece in place gets you closer to the final picture. Remember, the completed picture is always shown on the outside of the puzzle box. You know before you begin exactly what the puzzle will look like when it is done, and you refer to it often along the way.

You should also set non-financial goals, such as increasing units sold, contracts signed, clients acquired, tonnage processed, etc.

Put your vision in writing

With a clear long-term vision, leaders make decisions today that are consistent with where they truly want to end up. Their vision, planning, and goals are part of a master blueprint, a detailed description of how their business will finally come together. It is this vision of the future that arouses emotion and motivates everyone in the organization to give their best.

Begin today. Get in the Zone and get inspired. Create a vision, focusing on specific measurable goals. Start thinking “progress to goal” and communicate your vision to others.

Then take the next step and learn why business systems are the building blocks of every successful and profitable business.

4 - Systemise everything

In the Zone you are flooded with inspiration and ideas to improve your business. You have a vision of what the business is going to look like when it is "finished." You have written down specific goals. You are now ready to take steps to grow the perfect business.

As you look at your business through a microscope, you see it is made up of systems and subsystems. You realize that smooth running systems create a smooth running business. You conclude that your business will operate best when there is harmonious and orderly interaction between its vital systems.

Systems are the solutions to problems

All businesses have challenges that can create frustration for business owners and customers. A frustrating condition exists when there is a specific, recurring problem over which the business owner feels little or no control. Have you ever thought:

"My cash flow is stressing me out."

"I can't seem to hire good people."

"Our quality needs improvement."

"I don't get enough sales leads."

"Profits are down."

These undesirable patterns can be eliminated by simply installing a system. Systems are the logical and practical solutions to your problems waiting to be discovered.

An effective system is a procedure, process, method, or course of action that produces a consistent and measurable result. Every business has informal systems but that informality is the reason for much of the inefficiency and frustration. They can change with the whims of people and will not consistently produce the desired outcome. When systems are set up properly and well documented, they remove all of the guesswork and deliver a specific, measurable result every time..

Systems are the magic formula for success

Businesses often struggle with profit margins when there is continuous change in the delivery of products or services. Routine systems and procedures enhance profitability. Once the system is defined, money is made when ordinary people learn to do it fast and do it well. Generalized solutions, seat-of-the-pants operations, "human nature," and everything left to chance is replaced with detailed procedures, performance standards, and accountability.

The organizational chart, which visually describes the structure, leadership, and relationships within the organization, is the most fundamental business system. All other systems fall somewhere within the specified job functions on this organizational chart.

Good systems increase efficiency, accomplish objectives, and give customers what they want every single time. They are the solution to frustrations, wasted resources, poor performance, and other business problems. While the right people are critical to an organization, a mature business has fully developed systems and is systems-dependent rather than people-dependent.

Start creating systems today

Many systems are no more than a form or a checklist. Some are more complex. Systems are often modified and improved, but always provide the best known way of getting the job done. Remember, all new systems require owners and employees to have the "will" to implement change and stick with the new method of doing things.

There are three stages to developing an effective system.

Stage 1 - Design the system

Identify from business information, personal frustration, or customer dissatisfaction the areas of the business that need improvement. Defining the problem and its causes will often point to the system solution. Describe what the new system will look like and what effect it will have on the organization. Estimate the costs and benefits of the new system and decide if you have the resources to see the development process through to completion.

Stage 2 - Develop the System

Innovate new procedures, processes, or methods to solve problems and accomplish objectives. Innovations are the "best known way of doing things" and should be simple, repeatable, and customer-driven. The final system should contain all definitions, policies, detailed procedures, forms, management reports, and every component necessary for an employee to operate the system with exactness.

Stage 3 - Deploy the System

Implement the documented system. Eliminate employee discretion. Perform the task or procedure the same way every time, or until innovation improves it. Measure the impact of each system innovation on your business and its effectiveness over time, and be accountable.

It is the essential process for growing the perfect business. You'll have a dozen or so critical systems and many small subsystems. Accounting and marketing are the two granddaddy systems that drive the business.

When you think about it, this is why you got into business in the first place — to build a business that you could sell, franchise, or hire someone to run for you. A business built on systems is the only way to do it. Each system in place is one more step toward a business that leads you to financial and personal freedom.

Become a systems thinker. Step back and look at your business as a world of integrated systems. Identify weaknesses. Write down what you think of.

Take a look at your accounting system first. It plays a critical role in your business. Its importance cannot be overstated. Your next step is to get in control of the “numbers.”

5 - Manage by the numbers

You now understand that systems are the solution to your business challenges. Good systems increase efficiency, accomplish objectives, and give customers what they want every single time. Your business accounting should be the master system that measures the effectiveness of all your business processes—the operations of your business.

Think of your business as you would the human body. The body is a complex organization that has an important job to do. It must perform with exactness and on tight deadlines. To accomplish this, the body uses systems that work together—the circulatory system, respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system, etc. The brain manages all of these systems and works to keep the body healthy and functioning properly. The brain of your business is the accounting system.

It processes all of the data related to the activities of the business and provides owners with

strategic information to drive profitability and growth. “Managing by the numbers” is the method successful owners use to operate a business that is healthy and functioning properly.

Discover the true value of accounting

In many small to mid-size businesses, accounting is seen as the system used for paying the bills, reconciling the bank, invoicing customers, or preparing a tax return. It should be much more.

Accounting information reveals the strengths and weaknesses of a business. It tells the business owner what went wrong in the past and what can be done to improve in the future. Accounting systems reduce large quantities of complex data to simple and understandable information. This information contains the seeds of solutions for all business problems.

Accounting systems bring all the resources of the business to bear on the creation of profit, the lifeblood of the business. When an accounting system is utilized properly it can make poor men rich. If ignored, it can make rich men poor. It is the most underutilized tool of the average small business owner.

Business activities generate numbers, regardless of whether the owner pays attention to them. These activities are the specific daily processes and systems that create sales, produce products, train employees, service customers, etc. Strong accounting systems organize the numbers to produce a wealth of relevant information for running the business. For example, business intelligence may tell owners and managers:

"The company must do $100,000 per month to break-even."

"It takes an average of 52 days to collect accounts receivable."

 "The plant is running at 76% of its capacity."

"Labor costs are running 2% higher than budgeted."

The steady flow of information creates a reservoir of knowledge from which business decisions can be made. Good decisions will save or earn the owner far more than the cost of acquiring the information.

The accounting system may tell the owner to hire a salesman, and what the new break-even point will become. It may tell him to discontinue an unprofitable product line. He'll benefit by knowing the financial advantages and disadvantages of their business decisions.

Counting vs, accountability

Many business owners mistakenly think the root of the word "accounting" is "counting." They know their sales for the month, the bank balance, and how much money they owe vendors.

Savvy business owners understand the root of "accounting" is not "counting," but "accountability." Each business system or process is accountable for a planned result.

Ask yourself:

"Is my lead generation system producing the expected number of sales leads?"

 "Does our quality control system keep product returns at an acceptable level?"

"Is my employee incentive system boosting productivity?"

Effective accounting insures that all business activities are working together to produce profit. "Accounting" is an investment that pays big dividends. Don't be without it!

Strategic information leads to financial control

To develop the perfect business requires a disciplined and systematic course of action. The business owner must understand where he is at, where he is going, and how he is going to get there. He must use strategic information and systems to achieve financial control. If managed and grown properly, the business will be profitable, reward stakeholders, and create financial and personal freedom for owners. Accounting plays a central role.

One final point: Every business has one or two "key numbers" that drive its economic engine. If you have knowledge and control of these numbers, everything else falls into place. What are your key numbers? If you do not already have them identified, do so now, and get help if necessary. Attention to these key numbers will make all the difference to your success.

The next major system you must develop or refine is marketing and sales. A business will not exist for long if it does not have an effective system for getting customers in the door.

6 - Become an obsessed marketer

The grand and challenging mission of all businesses is to acquire and retain customers. If you do happen to have a hot product or robust sales at the moment, be warned. Business cycles assure a change in your forecast. Whatever your gifts, talents or expertise, you must become an obsessed marketer if you want to grow a long-term, healthy, and prosperous business.

Understand the industry

The brutal reality is that most people don't want your product, don't have the money to buy it, or won't even take the time to hear about it. If they won't pay what you need to sell it for, you don't have a market. If they won't take the time to listen to your pitch, you are invisible to them.

Among those few who might buy your product, most will never have your offering enter into their conscious mind. The advertising noise is so loud, the communication barriers so high, the competition so stiff and the choices so many, that the odds of you getting the business are remote! Marketing has also become so time consuming, expensive and oftentimes fruitless that many businesses don't do it, or don't do it well, and then struggle to survive.

When business sales hover at the break-even point. all you really have for your blood, sweat and tears is a stressful and often unrewarding job. But, if you have adequate margin, and sales climb above the break-even point, a miracle begins to happen. You make a profit. Cash flow improves. Creditors stop calling.

You have fun going to work. Everyone thinks you are easier to get along with. It all starts with an effective system to improve marketing and increase sales.

Follow proven marketing principles

Marketing is a complex and multi-faceted discipline. It is both an art and a science. The sheer volume of principles, techniques and strategies is overwhelming. Most entrepreneurs just do what everyone else in their industry does. Many, including myself, have experimented and failed more than once. When done well, however, a good marketing plan will create a magnetic field that continually pulls new leads and sales opportunities.

Here are some basic principles that I have learned:

Be Customer Driven. The best companies are customer and market driven. They uncover the facts about their marketplace. They know what their most probable customer is like and how they think. They don't design a product and then find a market. Instead, they fit their products to the needs of their current customers and target market.

Appeal to Emotions. Your customers are emotional beings. They are not going to buy anything that doesn't add something positive to their life or take away something negative. Your product or service must remove fear or take away pain and improve their business and/or personal life.

Target Your Market. You can't be all things to all people. You must target your market. Focus marketing activities on the market segment that has the highest probability of purchasing your product or service. Fit your product to exactly what those people are anxiously looking for. Position your product and message to your target market with laser precision so that you are clearly the best option they have. Your target market is the only market that matters to you.

Offer the Best Value. You must have the passion to be the best in the world at what you do. Your business is your real product and it has to become remarkable. Your inside reality (products, services, systems) must match the outside perception of your business (brochures, sales claims, etc). You must be able to deliver on your promise. Your unique and remarkable business package (quality, warranty, customer service, convenience, etc.), not just pricing, is what makes you the best.

Communicate a Powerful Message. Your marketing message—the "value proposition" and the "sensory package" (words, colors, logos, printed materials, etc.)—must explain how your remarkable offering will take away pain or improve their lives better than anyone else can. Communicate a clear, powerful message that shows why you are unbeatable. There is great power in specifics. Quantify, compare, or demonstrate your advantage or claims. Avoid the mindless fluff. Get real!

Find Cost Effective Channels. You have to find out the most cost effective marketing channels (print, broadcast, trade shows, etc.) to get your message to the targeted people who really need and want your product. The most effective marketing campaigns are multi- faceted, combining two or more strategies (e.g., print, web, telemarketing, etc.). Marketing dollars should not be looked upon as a disposable cost but rather as an investment in a customized and effective marketing system that will pay handsome dividends in the future.

Sell with a Compelling Story. After your message generates interest, you must have a powerful way to convince the prospect that they would be crazy to buy from anyone else but you. Your story must be the most compelling in your marketplace. It must also be true. And, of course, you must deliver it often.

Systemize Your Marketing. You must develop gradually refined systems for accomplishing the above that are unique to your business and that produce consistent and measurable results. Over time, you will know more and more about what works and what doesn't. Never stop marketing. With good systems you will know how to turn sales volume up or down as needed.

Become an Obsessed Marketer. You must have the "will" to be a successful marketer. You must allocate the time, effort, and financial resources over a sustained period of time. Don't expect many results for 3-6 months or a year. The momentum will build. Consistency equates with familiarity. Familiarity equates with confidence. Confidence equates with sales.

Be the master of your own success

You as an owner must take a personal interest in your marketing and develop your own effective marketing systems. This is, after all, the heart and soul of the business you are trying to grow. When owners fail, it is usually because they are running a company, not marketing a product.

Get in the Zone. Innovate to become a remarkable company. Read marketing books. Become aware of your own buying patterns and study how others sell to you. Notice what "successful" ads keep appearing week after week. Decide what you love and what you hate. Borrow ideas from other industries. Look at your product or service critically from your customer's point of view.

Finally, be patient and don't ever stop marketing or you will lose momentum and have to pay for another big launch. Over time you will develop effective systems—market research, lead generation, and lead conversion. When these systems are mature, they will provide a constant flow of new sales.

However, to stay ahead of the competition you must remain the “best deal” in your target market. You accomplish this through the process of innovation, the next step in creating the perfect business.

7 - Differentiate or die

There are so many high quality goods and services available in the marketplace today that the world does not really need your business — unless of course, you have something "remarkable" to offer. In today's world, the safe course is the risky course. Boring leads to failure. You must become an innovator. You must differentiate or die!

Consider the bell curve as it relates to products and services. At the small front end are the innovators and early adopters (e.g., Hummers, wireless technologies, and LASIK surgery). This stage is often characterized by fast growth and high profit.

The mass in the middle includes the established commodities (e.g., SUVs, soap, and carpet cleaning). These products are characterized by strong sales but lower profit margins due to intense competition.

At the end of the bell curve are disappearing products (e.g., station wagons, VHS movies, and chimney sweeps). This stage has diminishing sales coupled with low profit margins. You don't want to enter the marketplace with one of these products unless your innovation will give it new life.

What is innovation?

Innovation is at the heart of every exceptional business. What is innovation? It can be a new invention, technology, process, or business concept. However, it is most often a significant variation or improvement to something that already exists.

Innovation adds new product features or benefits not previously available. It makes products cheaper, faster, smaller, better, stronger, more efficient, and so on. It pushes limits and new frontiers. When innovations remove more pain or add more benefits than anything else available, your target market will seek them out.

The innovation may not be the product or service at all. It may be distinctive sales, marketing or advertising methods. It may be an improved distribution or delivery method, sharper pricing,more convenience, lower risk, better guarantee, or “killer customer care.”

Remember, your business is your product. It is made up of systems that provide consistent and measurable results. When you innovate to produce remarkable internal systems you will have a remarkable business.

How do you innovate?

Innovation is not as hard as it sounds. You just need to figure out a way to deliver more value to customers than any of your competitors. There are many ways to do this. Begin by asking yourself this simple question: If I were a customer of my business, what would compel me to buy from me instead of my competitors? If you aren't willing to get into the Zone and figure out the answer, you're doomed.

Please don't say you're special because you have higher quality, better service, or the lowest price. That's what everyone says. And, if your strategy is to use catchy advertising, fluff, or fast- talking sales pitches to sell the same old products and services that everyone else is offering, forget it. You can't build your business based on luck! Rise above the status quo.

Pricing is often the key differentiation of products in the commodity stage of the bell curve. At the innovative stage, where most entrepreneurs are, it should be your unfailing commitment to meet your target market's needs better and more effectively than anyone else would dream possible.

Legitimate price advantages do happen. But selling on price alone often stifles profit and growth.Truthfully, the customer pays a premium for the privilege of doing business with remarkable companies, but they must think it's OK because they keep coming back.

What is branding?

Some people refer to this process of becoming remarkable as "branding." Business owners tend to think of branding as advertising, when advertising is just one element of branding.

Branding touches every part of your business. It is the integration of all business systems to create consistency for customers, vendors, employees and you as the owner. When the "outside perception" of your business is remarkable and the "inside reality" of your business is remarkable, you become the buzz of the marketplace and you will have a brand.

Get into the Zone. Innovate. Seize a differentiating idea, dramatize it, and make it your own. Position your business in the marketplace as a beacon on a hill to your target market. Make your business truly remarkable!

Once you have differentiated your business in the marketplace and developed effective sales and marketing systems, you must do everything in your power to keep customers coming back. You need systems that will give them a great buying experience and convert them to loyal patrons.

8 - Convert with “killer customer care”

What's it like to do business with your company? Do you know? What do your customers think about you?

Most business owners think they have good customer care. Sadly, most of them are wrong and profits slip through their fingers because of it. Developing and maintaining long-term customer relationships is the foundation of a successful business. Providing "killer customer care" is the key in converting prospects into loyal clients.

Build your business around the specific needs of your target market from the ground up.

With so many quality goods and services available, customer care may be your single greatest weapon for competing in a crowded marketplace.

While competitors languish, you can have customer care systems that are remarkable and a company culture that keeps customers coming back again and again. Spending time on "killer customer care" will give your products and services superior value, a competitive advantage, and a handsome return on your investment in this critical business process.

"‘Killer customer care is the ultimate competitive differentiation for businesses in the twenty-first century" (George Colombo, Killer Customer Care).

Since your primary objective is to profitably find, serve, and keep customers, you must learn to think like them. Walking in their shoes will help you achieve the kind of customer care that will engender loyalty and escalate sales.

Let's consider five important suggestions your customers would have for you, but may never say.

Give the best customer service

As customers, we like to be educated and served, but not sold. We like people who are positive, polite, understanding, caring, and helpful. We like people who are pleasant and genuinely enjoy serving us.

In addition, give us clear communication without jargon, legalese, or thick accents. Call us by name and personalize our service. We appreciate those who listen, take ownership of our problem, and are immediately responsive to our needs. Talking to someone with expertise and a “can-do” attitude builds our confidence and trust in your company. We want to feel important throughout the life of our relationship with you.

Use systems to meet our expectations

We like to do business with companies that deliver explicitly on their promise. We like error- proof "systems" for handling all contacts, order fulfillment, and problem resolution. Your systems must empower the customer care representative to solve our problems quickly and turn any frustrations into gratitude and appreciation.

Your consistency and reliability over time is more important that occasional promotions or grand events.

Surprise and delight us

We like to be pleasantly surprised, to be entertained, and to have fun. We like to be "wowed." We value consistency and reliability but we also want an element of freshness and unpredictability that will keep us excited. If you continually exceed our expectations, we might become your customer for life!

Ask our opinion

Good companies listen closely to what we customers have to say. They believe we have good ideas. They want to know:

What do you like or not like about our product or service?

What would make your experience with us more satisfying?

What do you wish we would provide that we currently don't?

Why were you surprised, annoyed, frustrated, or disappointed?

Would you recommend us to others? Why? Why not?

Shop your business from our point of view. To better understand our expectations, ask! We feel valued when invited to give feedback. Listen between the lines and don't be afraid to get the brutal truth.

Practice the golden rule

We like to do business with companies that apply the golden rule — treat us the way you would like to be treated. When a company culture adopts this philosophy, it will become remarkable.

Systematically carried out over time, "killer customer care" will make your business dramatically more profitable. Repeat business and word-of-mouth referrals lower the cost of sales. A close relationship with customers produces customer-driven products and services that sell.

Nowadays, the investment required to find each new customer can be justified only by looking at the total lifetime value of that customer. Your investment in sales and marketing is safeguarded from the competition when customers have a great experience. Give it to them! And focus your best efforts on your most important customers.

Start by defining exactly what experience you want your customer to have. Then identify the most common interactions you have with them.

Do customers call?

Do they walk in?

Do they talk to salespeople or visit the website?

Do they exchange or return merchandise?

How do you interact with first-time customers?

Where do you get the most complaints?

Each customer contact is a moment of truth, a time when a relationship can either be strengthened or broken. Mistakes (usually a breakdown in your systems) are nothing more than opportunities to turn regular customers into customers for life. Either your client is frustrated and leaves with a negative memory of your company, or your client is excited about the solution.

Your employees also need to know that customer care is everyone's job, regardless of what other functions they perform. Your job is to create a company culture committed to the sincere caring, guidance, and protection of your customers. Build staff loyalty first and you will ensure that their positive energy and enthusiasm is transferred to serving customers.

Finally, achieve consistency by documenting exactly how you want your employees to respond in each situation. Each response should strengthen the customer relationship. You must create systems that consistently deliver the experience you have defined. With everyone in your business responding the same way every time, the customer knows exactly what to expect.

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