Customer Services 




 To Be Liked By Your Customers,
  Think Like Your Customers

by Craig Harrison

   We spend so much time thinking like sales and marketing experts we sometimes forget to think like our customers. Like the ballot designers in Florida who forgot to test their designs with users, we mustn�t forget to poll our customers periodically to remind ourselves of how they think and what they value, so we can best tailor our deliverables to their needs.
   One of the best ways of staying cognizant of our customers� experience is to periodically be our own customers. What happens when you call your company? Have you placed an order through your website? What happens when you become a customer of your own sales organization? How easy is it to place an order? How easily can you glean information? Can you easily compare and contrast products or services among those you offer? If it isn�t easy for you, an insider, then you can be sure it�s tougher for your customers.
   Customer response cards can provide valuable post-sale feedback on your customers� experiences. Use incentives and inducements to insure you get feedback from your customers. Whether using surveys, questionnaires or phone calls to follow up, make sure the customer is favored for their time and effort to respond.
   One of the best ways of staying abreast of buyers� thinking is by forming a focus group or advisory council of your key customers. What you really need is a representative sampling of customers willing to offer feedback on a variety of aspects of your sales operation. Whether you create an e-group of key clients who you can anonymously poll electronically for feedback, or stage periodic functions when select clients can convene to offer insights face-to-face, their input can save you thousands of dollars or more.
   Statistical analysis can also give insight into the shopping and buying patterns of customers. Do you track when your sales are made? Do you know where your customers come from? Are there patterns or cycles concerning products and progressions of sales, times of the year you see certain customers? Try to understand trends as they relate to your industry and be proactive in addressing traditionally slow or �down� times.
   I am a firm believer in communicating with customers�but how best to do so? When in doubt, it�s OK to ask. Many sales organizations rely on newsletters, mailers and coupons to keep in front of their customers. More and more, we see organizations utilizing e-zines to send regular e-mails to clients with a combination of new or pertinent information tempered with varying amounts of promotion. Other sales organizations devote considerable attention to training customers to revisit their website for the latest product and sale information. Like many airlines who offer special Internet rates, ISOs find they too can offer web specials that capitalize on the web�s efficiency to move certain product.
   You are now competing with the amazon.coms of the world. Customers are accustomed to instantaneous ordering, personal profiles assisting them with their buying needs and gentle up-selling that is context sensitive. Whether you are conducting business on the Internet or not, you need to match this level of service to compete. By thinking like your customers you will be one step ahead of the competition as you vie to satisfy their needs. Don�t think like your competitors�think like your customers.

Craig Harrison is a speaker, trainer and consultant who helps businesses make communication and customer service fun and easy. Contact him at 888.450.0664, via e-mail at [email protected] or through

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