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Appreciation Marketing – Small Business and Services Focus

Sunlit Mountains Free HRAre you a small business owner or service provider such as a doctor, lawyer, coach or physical trainer who is looking to expand their business today?

New business, in today’s world, can be a difficult task given the internet and social websites for every level of human interaction.  It’s even more difficult if you don’t have a solid base of satisfied customers from which to build that new business.

Customer satisfaction is a goal that every business owner should strive to improve every day.  The key is, do you have a plan to show your current customers that you really do appreciate them, over and above the $$ they spend with your business.  I venture to say that many business owners tend to see the delivery of product or service as an end of the transaction with no follow-up and that is dangerous in today’s market. It’s really all about communications, communications, and communications.

There are a number of facets to any customer transaction and you can be derailed at any one of these steps if you have not been diligent in your customer communications.  Why is this important?  Let’s look at a typical transaction:

A. Customer  looks for a reputable source of the product or service they wish to purchase by reviewing product recommendations and comparisons but they also inquire of:

  1. Advertising of your firm and competitors
  2. May get recommendations from related providers
  3. Will definitely check with family or friends regarding any interactions
  4. Will review online comments of products or services from existing or past customers

B. Once satisfied with the background reviews, they will usually contact you to initiate a transaction, if you are responsive and supportive.   This touch point can be impulsive or it can be well planned and orchestrated but it is a critical touch-point where you need to be present and attentive to the customer.  Were you available when they were inquiring?  Did you follow-up on any requests they may have made?

C. When there is agreement, the customer, and your business enters an informal or formal contract for product or services that require commitment to delivery. How you deliver is critical to a successful completion of the contract so you need to be aware of expectations at all levels of this activity. Did you honor your commitments? Did you deliver on time? Did you anticipate any possible roadblocks?

D. Once the customer has accepted the delivery and paid the agreed price, most of us believe the transaction has been completed but do you know how well you have done at each benchmark?  If you have not asked, then there will be an assumption that everything is OK. That may be a bad assumption at times.

E. You may have some current methods of interrogating the customer after the delivery ranging from email or phone surveys to in-house programs that require a customer to complete a brief survey before they leave.  However, many customers may feel obligated to fill out something but do they really want to provide you the information?  Does your current vehicle allow for a recap of expectations that were not met, whether actual or perceived?

In every transaction, there may be problems in its completion. Just the fact that your business delivers the expected product or service to the customer does not mean that they are happy with the transaction.  Was the product or service delivered on time? Was the installation done to the quality that the customer expected?  Were there any minor issues that were not mentioned that may be a problem in the future?

All these questions and much more, may “taint” the buying experience for the customer and you may not be aware of the possible issues. You may believe that delivering the expected product or service is enough, but how you do it may destroy your relationship with the customer in the future. Being unaware, or uncaring, of the mental state of the customer after the sale is completed may doom your future business with that customer.

Appreciation Marketing is inclusive of the after transaction relationship.  Do you ever actually thank them for their business, either at the point of delivery, or later, or both? If they don’t enjoy the buying experience, they won’t recommend your business to anyone else. They might like the product or service that you provided, but they may have disliked the experience that resulted in their obtaining whatever you sold to them. They will go elsewhere the next time that they have a need, and they may refer their friends to that same provider.  This can be critical for real estate agents, restaurateurs, auto salesmen, coaches, personal trainers, doctors, lawyers or many other industry personnel.

By staying in contact with your customers, via multiple channels, you open the lines of communication and allow your customers to be comfortable enough, to be honest with you. If they are not comfortable in their relationship with you, they will not continue to do business with you and will send others elsewhere when referrals are involved. Delivering a product or service may not be enough; how did you follow through during the process or afterward?

We provide Appreciation Marketing Workshops for anyone interested. Please contact me to relate your experiences or to request a workshop by emai at info@tlgcoach.com.