Hopefully, you aren’t too locked into national news, stock market jitters, trade wars, etc. As a Chicago business owner you’ve gotta keep your head in your own particular game.
But you must know this: with all the gloom out there, our mutual customers are looking for solace and for ports in the storm of everyday life. So here’s a question: is your business that kind of place?
Sure, they pay you for your products or services … but there’s more you can do. Very profitably, if you do it right, and a killer if you don’t.
It’s something we work on, and keep trying to get better. I also know there’s more we can do. And you should too, for your own business…
Mapping Out Your Chicago Prospective Customers’ Experience
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this — you haven’t.” -Thomas Edison
As you must know, each customer you acquire has tremendous long-term value. However, most struggling businesses I begin with fail to understand and work to preserve this value.
When I sit down with a business owner, aside from cajoling them to raise their prices, we take a look at what things look like from the perspective of the prospect/customer.
What do they see/hear/feel first? First impressions are lasting impressions. It’s sad but true: America does judge a book by its cover. As such, it’s very difficult to overcome a poorly-managed first impression.
So, think about your business: if telephone contact is the source of first impressions for many of your prospective customers, are you giving careful and thorough consideration to how these calls are handled? Are you measuring success? Many Chicago businesses lose a tremendous amount of business by bungling the first telephone contact.
What if the first impression typically happens when the prospective customer walks in the door? Well, you need to give thought to specific procedures for meeting and greeting that person.
Most critically (if your business is a public retail business), I believe you need to give a great deal of attention to the store environment. It’s an interesting case study to observe businesses that have historically maintained lousy environments which are now losing their markets to new competitors who concentrate on environment. What’s worse is that folks in these sectors had accepted their poor environments as “just the way it is”.
Take the service station. It’s typically (though not always) associated with a dirty, greasy, unpleasant place. The waiting area for customers usually consists of a couple of cruddy, battered chairs thrown in the corner with a dirty vending machine and a stack of old, tattered Hot Rod magazines.
Well, today the neighborhood service station industry has lost control of getting customers from oil change business because new car care companies have a nice image, pleasant waiting area, and a new, progressive approach to customer environment. You can improve a great deal in your bottom line by fixing these problems. And doing it now!
After you make a sale, the “customer environment” is all about follow-up and follow-through. How would you react if…
…you got a call from your car dealer service manager a week after having some repairs done just to make sure everything is okay?
…you got a call from your doctor the evening after treatment just to check up on you?
…you got a questionnaire in the mail from a restaurant you dined at soliciting your comments and suggestions?
Some business people tell me, “That’s looking for trouble.” I disagree. I think it’s looking for rapport, loyalty, satisfaction, and repeat business.
Even better, if follow-up reveals a lot of dissatisfaction, well, now you know that there’s a problem and that you need to make some changes! The dissatisfaction is there whether you discover it or not. And if you have no way of learning this info, you will pay the price sooner or later.
There’s more you can do for profitable follow-up, and I’ll address that in a later note to you.
Again, I don’t pretend to be a “guru” … I just see what works, and I like to pass it on.
I’m grateful for our chance to serve you and your business — and we are dedicated to its success, in every measure.
Feel free to share this post with any of your Chicago business associates or clients you know who could benefit from our assistance. While these particular articles usually relate to business strategy, as you know, we specialize in tax preparation and planning for families and business owners.
A.L. Taylor and Associates, PC