|Home | Client Comments | Programs | Presentations | Library | Contact Us|
|Complete Business Wisdom
|New Ways To Win Customers
Harvy Simkovits, CMC - Published in Mass High Tech 10/5/98
Over the last 15 years, much has been said and done about improving a company's customer service ability in order to gain competitive advantage. Efforts have largely focused on tactical maneuvers, like "sugar-coating" a company's approach (playing "nice-nice") with customers, and building a "rah-rah" service spirit among employees who serve customers.
I believe its time for business owners need to be more strategic in their approach to customers by focusing their company's efforts at the right customers for their business. I call this "playing the outside and inside business games to win."
Critical Questions About Your Customer Gameplan
To give you a hard-hitting sense of what I mean, answer the following questions about your company's customer-service aspirations with either "fully," "somewhat," "not at all."
Is your company working to:
If your answers to most of these questions lean toward "fully," then I wonder if your business is making significant profit by doing this. You may be pleasing and keeping most of your customers (and I commend you for that), yet you may be losing significant profits in the process.
As Adrian Slywotzky and David Morrison have so aptly put it in their 1997 book, The Profit Zone, the conventional business approach over the last number of years has been, "Gain market share and then company profit will follow." However, they demonstrate that a new approach is more profitable: "Understand what's most important to the customer and where your company can make a profit with them; then work to gain market share in that finite arena."
Winning the Outside Game
Decide on which customers to focus on initially, then subsequently. Consider these customer types:
Then consider these tips for handling these various categories:
Winning the "Inside Game"
There are six critical supports your company can build inside the business in order to acquire and maintain your targeted customers. Your customer sees the first two at every contact with your company:
The other four supports reinforcement the first two, and together they act as a safety net, which catches and carries the companys customers. They include:
After thinking about your safety net, focus about those supports that need strengthening. That is where you will get the greatest return in generating additional customer retention, greater margins, or lower costs of doing business.
Committed leadership will keep efforts focused and moving despite inevitable challenge and possible adversity, especially in a highly competitive business. Outside customer capturing and inside organizational Improvement efforts must be targeted, starting small and building momentum. Employees and suppliers need to be involved in analyses and actions in order to generate uniform commitment and ensure that changes/improvements stick. Also, employee competence and confidence needs to be built to sustain your company's advantage over the long haul.
Performing all these outside and inside efforts both proactively and intelligently will generate and ensure long-term success for your business.