Customer Relationship

Taking Care of the Golden Goose

Taking Care of the Golden Goose

Came upon an interesting post in the Life Insurance Agent Blog. The title of the entry is The Lie About Leads. Buying and selling leads is big business in the insurance industry. Do a Google search on "Insurance Leads" and you will see what I mean. Just like any other business, finding new customers can be an expensive and time consuming process. Here is a quick primer on lead terminology from the Life Insurance Agent blog:

Cold lead—this is worthless—it’s a name from a mailing list broker. The person may meet certain criteria—e.g., age, income or household value. Above that, it’s just a name, like a name from a phone book.

Warm lead—the person has requested information by completing a card, an Internet form or expressed interest with no coaxing. Your best prospects will always be the ones that take action on their own, with no one convincing, no coaxing, no call from a telemarketer.

Telemarketed lead. This is supposedly a warm lead with interest in meeting—they tell you that the prospect is waiting for your call. I doubt it. Few people have the time and inclination to talk to telemarketers on the phone and sales people.

Set appointment—this can be a very valuable lead but ask how the appointment was made. Did the prospect first call from an ad or direct mail offer and then a telemarketer set an appointment? That’s good because this prospect took the initiative.

I think he makes some great points but may have left off the most important lead of all: a referral from a happy customer. Even the most qualified lead listed above has no clue about you--your honesty, your integrity, your ability to deliver great service. On the other hand, a lead that comes from a happy customer, that lead comes with your customer's reputation attached. That is, your customer likes you enough that they are willing to put their reputation on the line with their friend on behalf of you and your business. Countless surveys have shown that referrals are without a doubt the most powerful influence on just about any purchasing decision.

Does that mean that there is no place for buying leads? No, not at all. Especially when you are getting started. You have to keep your funnel full. What it does mean, is that every lead that you successfully turn into a customer is a golden goose. Your highest priority should be to take care of that goose so that it continues to lay the golden eggs of referrals well into the future.

Think it doesn't work? Tyler Slade of Canyon Lands Insurance, one of our PromoterZ™ customers, gets a 9 or 10 from 95% of his clients when asked how likely it is they would recommend him to a friend. Not surprisingly, he has received referrals from 60% of his clients. It works.

So here is my blatant PromoterZ plug: Apply some modern technology to your client care tools to make sure your geese are being well tended. PromoterZ™ will make sure they are happy, send information to them regularly, send them a birthday greeting, and collect referrals. Check it out: www.promoterz.com. End of blantant plug.

More happy customers. More repeat sales. More referrals. Learn more

Customer as Emperor

Customer as Emperor

From Japan comes the tradition of oshibori. Oshibori is the Japanese word for the rolled up hot towel you receive after eating at an authentic Japanese restaurant or at the conclusion of an international flight. If you have never experienced a hot towel after a long flight, it is as close as you can get to a refreshing shower in the comfort of your seat with all your clothes on. What does it have to do with growing your business? It's remarkable.

As noted, you might expect a hot towel in a Japanese restaurant or on a flight but how about in the dentist chair just after the hygienist has stretched your mouth into unnatural shapes to chisel that last piece of plaque from your teeth? Nice and warm, with the light sent of lemon--that would be remarkable wouldn't it? How might that change what you tell your friends about your trip to the dentist? Simple thing. Only costs a few cents. But it could lead to a number of referrals. What would your customers tell their friends if you gave them a hot towel?

According to Jason Stark of White Towel Services, the majority of his customers are dentists. Dentists that understand that filling your cavity is a commodity--any one of a thousand dentists could it. But having a remarkable experience in their office--that is something that nobody can compete with.

So what do your customers remember about your business? Do they experience something remarkable enough to tell their friends about? For some businesses it might be their concept. For example, Entrees Made Easy provides the ingredients and recipes for several meals to its customers making it easy and quick for them to create great tasting home cooked meals. The concept is new, innovative, and needed in today's hectic world. Those that try it can't wait to tell their friends.

Thankfully, an innovative new concept isn't the only way to be remarkable. The sad fact is that good service is so rare, any company that does provide it is remarkable. I read just yesterday in a column by John DiJulius about Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (27 restaurants in 7 states). What I read wasn't about their food or their concept (though with further research I learned both are amazing). What I read about was their customer service. They seem to realize that indeed the customer is the emperor and the emperor doesn't like to be told "no." Their promise: "The answer's yes..now what's the question?" Given their growth, I think their customers remember that kind of service and find it remarkable enough to tell their friends.

Still wondering what is remarkable about your business? Here is a suggestion: ask your customers. Ask them if they would recommend you to a friend and if so why? Then listen carefully.

How ever you figure it out, do it quickly. Being remarkable is not just a good idea--it is absolutely required for any business to both survive and grow.

When you pass out a Promoterz bounce back card you automatically build an accurate customer list, increase repeat sales, increase referrals and prevent lost business. Pretty powerful little card. Learn more

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Stupid Things Stupid Businesses Do

Of course businesses aren't stupid, in fact the people in the businesses aren't stupid (I'm being kind), but they become stupid as the people in them act stupidly. How so? I’m about to explain. Before I begin I must say that I have been inspired by Pam Slim’s Open letter to CEOs, COOs, CIOs and CFOs across the corporate world.

Stupid businesses don’t grow right. They treat their customers badly. It’s likely that they don’t want to but they do because they have an environment of treating people badly. Employees are treated badly and they, in turn, treat the customers in like manner.

  1. They don’t care about the customer
  2. They’re rude or inattentive
  3. They do bad work

I know there are reasons they act this way. I was in a store recently and the cashier was so worn down that she looked like a zombie. Glassy-eyed, she hardly knew I was there. She couldn’t ring a particular item up right and offered no solution to the problem. No help. It was fun to pull her out of it and find a smile, but that was for a moment and then she was back to longing for the day to end.

Last week my daughter saw an employee at a Subway drive everyone out of the building. Literally. “I’ve had it with this place!”, she said. Once she got everyone out she locked the door!

That comes from above. Managers are above. Stupid managers make stupid businesses. Stupid managers:

  1. Overwork employees
  2. Command in all things
  3. Don’t accept feedback or suggestions
  4. Frequently criticize and nit pick
  5. Rarely give praise or recognition
  6. Lazily expect subordinates to do their work for them
  7. Yell and act in a mean manner

That creates an atmosphere for stupid employees. I have a son that works at a grocery store. His manager takes 10-15 smoke breaks a day. He comes back and finds that a yogurt container isn’t facing the right way and goes ballistic. It’s sad. Another son works in a clothing department. His manager always has it in her mind that the women’s part of the department is trashed. “Get over there and clean it up, it’s terrible!” Whether it is or not, that’s her message. It’s never right, it’s never good, and she doesn’t want to hear any different.

Above managers in the small business world are owners. Stupid small business owners make stupid small businesses. Let me put emphasis on small, I don’t mean small in size here, but small in quality and integrity.

  1. They provide no real incentives to perform well
  2. They are self serving without real regard for employees or customers
  3. They underpay, giving only what they have to

I’ve seen a business owner pit manager against employees, lie to customers, negotiate in bad faith, and do all things for their own aggrandizement and benefit. The business started in a great, innovative way but became small because of the owner.

Stupid businesses are remarkable but not in a positive way. The famous line from Forest Gump is true, “Stupid is as stupid does.” Stupid businesses don’t grow like they could, like the owner would really like them to grow. They can be planted in a good spot, sprout and start, but they will never get the powerful fertilizer of referrals or the life giving water of returning customers to grow into what they have the potential to become.

The Happiest customers tell on average 8 other people. Who are your happiest customers? Promoterz knows. Learn more

Best Place to Advertise?

Best Place to Advertise?

Very interesting article in the Wall Street Journalabout where small local businesses are advertising. According to the article, yellow pages still dominate but the internet is opening up some promising new opportunities. The article talks about three:

Local Television. An online company called Spot Runner will make you semi-custom ad for less than $500 and then place it for you with local stations. A pet boarding service paid $299 for an ad plus $1,400 for placement and saw their calls increase 20%

Online Search Ads. Hook up with Yahoo and or Google and for $250 to $300 a month they will host a detailed web page and provide ad listings on their search engines. A salon tried it and says they now get 80% of their new customer through the internet.

Craigslist. Craigslist is an online classified ad system that is free and growing like crazy. A carpet cleaner in New York quit using newspaper ads and gets 90% of his business from Craigslist.

Some of these ideas seem pretty good and may be worth trying depending on what kind of business you are in. What it highlights for me once again is that it is tough to get new customers in the door. In fact, it costs 5 to 10 times more to attract new customers than it does to sell more to your current customers. So once you get them, don't ever let them go. How do you do that? Give them a remarkable experience, ask them what they think, get their email address, and stay in touch with them. Not only will they come back, they will bring their friends.

Customers who feel that you are listening to them are more likely to recommend you to a friend. How do your customers know that you are listening? Learn more

Keep an Eye on Your Tail

Keep an Eye on Your Tail

It is hard to overemphasize the importance and long lasting effect of reputation. As humans we seem to have a natural belief that things don't change. Once we've developed a perception of something, it is pretty hard to shift our perspective. Here is a quick quiz from a recent post in Tom Guarriello's blog:

Which has more crime, San Diego or New York?
Which country has the highest per capita income?

If you answered New York and the U.S. you would be wrong. New York used to have more crime but not any more. Now it just has the reputation.

And where does the U.S. rank on per capita income? We're number 5 now behind Bermuda, Luxembourg, Equitorial Guinea and Norway. We used to have the highest.

So what does this have to do with our businesses? Well ask yourself what reputation does your business have and, perhaps even more important, what kind of reputation are we building every day? When a customer has a problem, how do you find out about it? Are you proactively asking? And when you do become aware of a problem, do you solve it or avoid it?

Your tail is growing--make sure it is the one you want.

Find your happy customers and put a megaphone in their hand. Learn more
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We search the business blog world looking for posts that illustrate principles, or "Seeds", that if followed, or "planted", will help small businesses grow. We list them here for your convenience. Enjoy.

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