I don’t know what the heck happened, but the garbage guys forgot to pick up my green can full of lawn clippings and mulchables from our curb on Tuesday. When I called to complain, they apologized and said a truck would be back before 6:00. I was stunned—service from a place where service was not expected.
Afterward, I thought of how angry I was at the company and the driver for passing me up and how they handled the situation with an acceptance of responsibility and a solution to rectify the problem. Why make it hard?
As retailers, you spend so much time and money on marketing and measurements that you may lose track of the lowest-hanging fruit, customers you have previously served. They are your most cost-effective segment to market to and the most likely to come back more often, spend the most money and tell more people—IF YOU TREAT THEM RIGHT. And for the independent retailer or those big guys that act as if they are an independent retailer as part of the culture, it is a massive pretzel hold you can apply to the Goliaths in your market to tap them out of the contest. If I were a top 100 operator charged with profitability and operations, I would be scared to death of losing share to those that lead from the trenches and are nimble enough to shuck and jive in real-time. Your weapon is your size. You are David, and you can win. Here is some food for thought to win at the softer side of this battle we fight each day that you may want to consider.
- Treat customers in a manner worthy of their loyalty. Why would anyone want to do business with you? I mean it. Ask yourself the question and write out your list. Does it sound cliché? Do the words best selection and lowest prices come up? Please say no. It is really important to be clear about who you are and what you are doing there.
- Develop relationships with your team so that allegiance inside your ranks is unquestionable. It’s no secret that a happy team leads to happy customers. Are you investing properly in your team at every level? Are you living up to your contract with them as a human being? Are you giving each person a reason to be excited to come to work and feel fulfilled? If not, you can be sure business is passing you by. How does the saying go—happy spouse, happy house? You entered into a relationship with your employees when you hired them, so you are obligated to hold up your end of the bargain. If you expect their loyalty, be loyal first. As a leader, make sure when your team leaves for the day, they are as pumped as they were when they arrived.
- Businesses that enrich the lives of others earn good profits. Good profits are the higher percentage of earnings spawned from loyalty and good feelings. All profits are good, but not all profits are right. Is it your goal, nay expectation, that after each and every sale, a customer will, upon their own volition, brag to their friends and family about their experience? I hope so.
- Think long-term and avoid bad profits. Quarterly profits are critical to the short-term bottom line when you’re a public company or one with a Board of Directors. Top-line sales are what directors like to brag about with friends. The nibble fees these profits are based on are slowly eating away at the goodwill of customers. Service fees, redelivery, processing, deluxing, and white glove delivery fees are bad profits. I would much rather have the goodwill than the couple extra bucks your customer reluctantly forked over along with their loyalty to future business. It ain’t worth it.
I would much rather delight customers and positively enrich their lives. I may sound like a goopy hippie, but treating people right is much more fun. Bully retailers try to hide their customer churn behind millions of dollars of marketing to attract new customers. Believe me, I know. Not only was I one of them, but try searching any online reviews for conglomerate furniture stores in any area. You will never see more one and two-star reviews for any industry. It’s embarrassing, but it opens up an opportunity.
Do you have this issue and want to fix it? Here’s where to start:
- Figure out who hates you and who loves you. You need to know this number specifically. Google NPS ( Net Promoter Score) and figure out what yours is.
- Incorporate a way to deal with each customer issue that comes up and build a daily process. Someone with the juice to solve problems and make decisions in your organization needs to own it and live it.
- Adopt the strategy of earning promoters as mission-critical. It’s no longer a numbers game. The weapon is empathy, kindness, and gratitude, and the prize is sustainable profits done well.
Wanna know who runs their business with these factors in mind?
The ones that don’t include:
I hope this resonates with some of you. There is a lot of meat on the bone for any store, big or small, to dominate a market as much as they want. In the end, you have to not only care but care enough to do something about it. I love hearing about wins and opportunities taken, so I encourage any questions, thoughts, or rebuttals. My private email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’d love to hear from you. Happy hunting.