Are You Driving Customers Away Meridith Elliot PowellThree Strategies To Keep Your Customers From The Competition

 I am an instant gratification person! The moment I decide I want or need something, I want to get it, buy it, or find it! So shopping online, for me, has never been a great option. That whole waiting 24-hours seems like a lifetime.

That is especially true when it comes to shopping at the holidays. Now, to be honest, I do not fall into that category of people who love or even remotely like to shop. It is not my idea of a good time or a great way to spend a day.

However, the exception to that is the holiday season. Beginning December 1st, I start to get into it. I love shopping for the gifts to take to parties, the Secret Santa Stuffers required at professional functions and even the complicated process of buying for family and friends.

I love the idea browsing through retail stores and finding the perfect gift for people. That just feels more like the holidays than sitting behind a computer and staring at the screen.

That is until this year. As I entered stores to figure out what to even put on my Christmas list, I was struck by how many bad customer service experiences I had in just trying to buy things the old-fashioned way.

These experiences made me realize, our biggest challenge in making our organizations grow is not the competition or the Internet. It is how we treat our customers, how easy we are to do business with, and the level to which we create an experience for our customers. We need to ask ourselves, are we driving our customers away?

My first purchase this holiday season was JBL portable speaker for my nephew. The first store I chose was pretty busy but not too crowded, and I innocently thought this is going to be easy. I found the speakers behind a locked case and had to locate a store associate to help me access them.

The first challenge was finding the associate. Every associate I found seemed to have little interest and kept telling me that was not their department. Finally, I saw a young man standing next to the checkout counter (doing nothing but standing there), and I asked if he could assist me. He said no that he was not allowed to have the keys to the locked cabinet; I would have to stand in line and talk with the “other” clerk.

Strike One

So I did, stood in line behind ten people while they checked out merely to ask to look at a piece of merchandise. Strike One!

Strike Two

When I finally got to the clerk, I told her what I needed, and she sighed and said: “well okay, but I will have to find my keys, Melissa took my keys, and I do not know where she is.”  Strike Two!

She leaves to find Melissa thus leaving the checkout counter empty (yes, with people behind me wanting to check out – pay money for things). They now must move lines and get behind the sole person left to check out. What is not an overly crowded store is ridiculously inefficient. The first young man I spoke with is still there doing nothing. That should have been Strike Three!

Strike Three

My clerk finally comes back, we get the speaker, and I decide to purchase it. I give the speaker to her and say I will take it, and she looks at me, hands it back and says it is time for her break, I will have to get in the “other guys” line to buy the item. Aaannnd Strike Three!

I left the store, went home and bought the product online in two seconds. Sure, I had to wait for 48-hours to get it in my hot little hands, but that was far less frustrating than having to try to buy it in the store.

This holiday season, I had plenty of examples like that. Where the “experience” of buying was just not fun, so I left and chose to spend my money elsewhere. Sometimes online, sometimes in another store.

The most significant challenge we have today in attracting new customers, retaining existing ones and selling more products, is not our competition, not the option of going online, it is not even price. It is the level to which we understand and embrace what our customers are buying.

Your products and services are a commodity; something customers can buy anywhere, anytime and from anybody. So that is not why they are coming to your business, your store or engaging with you. It is the experience you provide.

Three Strategies To Keep Customers From The Competition

  1. Easy To Do Business With

    Ask yourself: Are you easy to do business with? Better yet, experience how easy you are or are not to do business with. While I do not believe the store owner was trying to make the customer experience an obstacle course, unfortunately, that is what had been created. Do a walkthrough, role-play, and consistently improve the ease of doing business within your organization. Take it from your customer’s point of view – study their journey with you as Joseph A. Michelli states. The easier you are to do business with, the more business you will do.

  2. Employee Full Engagement

    Ask yourself: Do my employees understand how precious a customer is? How much it costs to get a customer to engage with us, and how important it is to recoup that cost by getting them to purchase? Have I given them the training, support, and investment to fully empower them to go above and beyond to provide a fantastic customer experience? In my case, my clerk was far more interested in her break than making a sale.

  3. Exceptional Customer Experience 

    Ask yourself: Do we as an organization understand what we are selling? Because it is not the products or services that are differentiating you from your competition, it is the experience you are offering. Lee Salz of Sales Architects mentions, in selling an experience, it is how you sell, not just what you sell, that differentiates you. To keep customers coming back and away from your competition, you have to create an exceptional customer experience. One that gets customers talking and one they believe is so different from your competition.

Let’s make 2018 your BEST year on record!  Join us for a FREE webinar on January 22nd at 3 EST.  We will dive deep into each of these strategies, including the voice of the customer and put together your business growth plan for 2018.  Sign up today!

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