It never ceases to amaze me when I hear about or experience a company that forgets the basics of Marketing 101. Lots of companies use all the latest and greatest marketing strategies to attract business, yet forget one of the most effective forms of marketing; stellar customer service.
It seems more and more companies are overlooking this type of marketing. Or, they think that offering so/so customer service is good enough.
That may be fine for an average business, selling an average product or service, to people who don’t care about anything but the cheapest price and the greatest bargain. For companies who want to be known as above average, who want to command top dollar, be in the game for the long haul and be recognized as one of the best, good enough is hardly good enough. You have to go above and beyond. One of the most important aspects of going above and beyond is paying attention to what your customers need and what they are asking for.
Case in point. When I relocated my home and my business about a year and a half ago, I was in need of finding new service providers for a number of things;
home and auto insurance, a dentist, a doctor, an auto mechanic and an accountant to name just a few.
My experience of finding the right people to do business with was likely similar to what others go through. There is the first level a customer goes through to find service providers. Often it is based on the recommendation of a neighbor, colleague, or member of church or association we belong to. At this level, we are relying on what someone else says about a company, primarily because that’s all we have to go on.
The next level is the actual experience the customer has when they do business with the recommended company. When I went through this process my overall experience with the vendors who were recommended to me was quite good. In some cases exceptional.
Such was not the case with the accounting firm I selected based on a personal recommendation. I called the firm, set up an appointment and spent a good hour talking to the CPA about my business, my needs, goals for my company, how I preferred information to be communicated to me and the billing process. Something I emphasized is that I wanted no surprises.
All seemed in order as I left my first meeting. However, within a short period of time it became evident my needs and wants were not being honored. A phone call to the CPA’s assistant seemed to clear up the misunderstanding. We were back on track, or so I thought.
Another couple of months passed and once again, it became apparent that the agreements we made were not being honored. The fact was, I wasn’t asking for anything out of the ordinary.
After the third occasion of talking to the CPA’s assistant in frustration and the assistant giving me yet another series of excuses I decided to pull my business from the firm. I had far too much at risk to continue this song and dance. Besides, now each time I had a conversation I felt angry and frustrated. This was not how I wanted my relationship with my accountant to be.
Amazingly, this wasn’t a bargain basement accounting firm. The firm is known as one of the top in the area. Yet, from my experience this was not evident.
The CPA and assistant seemed genuinely surprised when I chose to take my business elsewhere. It hardly seemed that it should have been a shock to them because I had let them know of my displeasure with how my account was being handled on three occasions.
Apparently, the accountant was going through some personal problems and had let her personal life impact her business relationships. Her assistant had to continually smooth things over and cover for her. I was to discover it was not just me who had this experience.
Everyone goes through personal problems. That’s a part of life. But to let personal problems impact one’s business to the degree this accountant did can have detrimental effects on a business; theirs and that of the client.
When something like this happens, not only are customers frustrated, professional relationships are deeply impacted and trust is lost.
No matter what a company says about themselves by way of their advertising, website or blog, the reality is, your customer’s experience either works for you or against you.
What is the experience you create for your customers?
Kathleen Gage is an Internet Marketing Advisor for Speakers, Trainers, Authors, Consultants and Entrepreneurs. To inquire about her consulting and speaking services visit www.streetsmartsmarketing.com