Customer retention is what makes your business life easy. Keep customers coming back and you don’t have to worry so much about finding new ones. In my book “Small Business Marketing Made EZ” I reference where my dad said it best….”It’s cheaper to keep ‘er”
Why then do so many businesses get it all wrong? They give bad answers. Here’s what I mean:
Bad Answer, from a bank where I have a long, significant client relationship. Had a relationship. After catching fraudulent charges (good) they lied about trying to reach me (never leaving a message) but, to the main point, when told I was leaving on a trip and needed a replacement card the next day, said NO we send out all replacement cards by UPS Standard Service so it will be there in one to three business days. And NO, you can’t pay for next-day service. And NO, you can’t talk to a manager. Grade: F. (Correct Answer: Yes, Or yes. Or yes.)
Good Answer, from a local clothing merchant. After picking out a few things needing alterations, at noon, I asked if I could go have lunch with a friend and come back and get them at 2pm, because I had no time the next day to drive back over (30 minutes from home). NO, not at 2 today, but we will deliver it all tomorrow. Grade: B+
Bad Answer, from a little gift shop, same town, NO, we only have two, not three of those. But we can order a 3rd one and it’ll be here in a week. Okay. But NO we don’t have boxes for them. We have these nifty bags with our logo. No good for shipping them as gifts. Sorry, NO boxes. She then repeated it, slowly and louder as if I were mentally impaired or old AND DEAF or an illegal immigrant with no grasp of our language. NO, we do not have b-o-x-e-s. We have these nifty bags. She was frustrated with me. Grade: F. (Correct answer: since you have to come back to pick up one, leave the other two; we’ll get boxes and have them all boxed nicely when you return. Then: go to Office Max, buy boxes, pack.)
Good Answer, NO, we don’t have iced tea. But we have hot tea and we have ice, so I can make some for you. Grade A+
This is NOT rocket science. A Good Answer is: YES or a “YES ALTERNATIVE.” A Bad Answer is NO. Especially if doing business with you is entirely optional, and there are other choices for the customer. Triple so, if your customer is a boomer or senior. 10X so, if you can be Amazoned. I am NOT saying that you can’t have stated and “sold” rules of engagement, with the caveat that every so often for good reason every rule is to be set aside. This certainly does NOT mean “any and every customer is always right”. But the more you throw up obstacles and the more you unnecessarily and unreasonably (i.e. without expressed good reason) toss out “NO”, the more likely customers are to say NO to you, permanently.
Please do not waste any money on advertising, marketing, promotion, social media, video for websites, store or office rent, inventory, etc if, when customers or clients are obtained, you’re going to give them Bad Answers.
If you now give Bad Answers, lock yourself up, hang a CLOSED sign, sit, list every Bad Answer you give, and figure out how to replace it with a Good Answer. Seriously, do it now! Don’t re-open for business until you are properly prepared to do business. Please, stop embarrassing yourself.
If you create Good Answers but you discover someone in your employ giving Bad Answers, explain “3 Strikes & You’re Out” to them, re-train on the Good Answers, wait a week, mystery shop, check surveillance recordings, test. If they fail, call Strike Two. Repeat. Any Strike Three, boot them to the curb.
Bottom line: There is no acceptable excuse for giving Bad Answers. Don’t accept any from yourself or those in your employ. If you want to be in the Bad Excuses Business, get a job in the federal government where they give bad answers every day. You’re a small business owner and the only answer to keeping customers – and your wallet full – is to give Good Answers.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small - and not so small - businesses one marketing plan at a time. She helps business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE profit. Stacey's in-demand "Small Biz Marketing Success Coaching and Mastermind Program" is transforming the businesses - and lives - of those who want wealth, freedom, and market domination. Her highly acclaimed book "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" lays out the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of Cups To Gallons, the place where independent coffee, smoothie, juice bar, ice cream, dessert and snack shop owners go to learn how get into lucrative catering so they stop selling by the cup and start selling by the gallon. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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