“Twelve Pillars to Support Your Business Success”
Pillar Eight – Purchasers
What we discuss in Pillar Eight:
- Who are your Purchasers?
- Great Customer Service
- Analysing your Purchasers
- Rating your Purchasers
- Why your Purchasers stay and why they leave you
It’s all about Customer Service. If you are an SMB and don’t excel here you are in serious trouble.
If the purpose of a business is to “buy profitable customers” this chapter is a main pillar to the success of your business.
Who are your “Purchasers?” – the concept may go a little beyond what you expect. Clearly purchasers describes those who spend their dollars with your business. You may call them Customers, Clients, Patrons, Buyers, Shoppers or even Punters. I would also suggest that your customers also include you, your team and your suppliers.
Your role is to attract, retain, support, manage and improve profit from and for each group.
The first and most important purchaser of your business is you, the business owner. Your business must serve you by providing acceptable and growing profit.
Secondly your team is a purchaser of your business. Your business provides your team with paid employment, training, opportunity and recognition.
Your suppliers are supported by your business when their accounts are paid in full and on time.
Without your business supporting these three groups it is unlikely to be able to support the final traditional group of purchasers – customers, clients, patrons, buyers, shoppers or punters. Your role with the group that spends dollars with your business is to consistently meet their needs, thus encouraging them to spend more with your business more often.
How do you consistently meet your customer needs?
In Pillar 7 we covered the promotional and marketing activity, testing and measuring, cost to acquire and lifetime value. Additionally we looked at the ladder of loyalty which takes suspects to raving fans.
For this pillar I will assume that your marketing and promotional activity, your USP and guarantee have attracted shoppers (purchased from you once) and customers (purchased from you more than once) to your business.
So you have some people or companies that spend their dollars in your business, what do you do now?
Simply put, understand them, look after them, study them, build relationships with them, maximise the return from them and, if need be, sack those who a too difficult to deal with.
What is great Customer Service?
To me great service is about consistently delivering your offer in a way that meets the needs of your customers. If you present your business as delivering something to purchasers then you do it week in week out with consistency.
Offering a level of service one week and then changing it the next is confusing to your purchasers and your internal customers plus inconsistence is usually non-productive and wastes money.
The next step to offeringgreat Customer Service is to continually review what you are doing to improve your service. Your purchaser will expect to always be satisfied, that’s a given. Your challenge will be to consistently improve your service to delight and WOW them.
I drive a Lexus and when I bought this vehicle I took advantage of an advertised low interest rate. One month after I signed the deal Lexus re-advertised the same deal at an even lower rate. To me this devalued my vehicle, I contacted Lexus to discuss/complain. With no questions asked they understood my issue and re-issued the contract at the lower rate. Their only comment, “We do not want unhappy customers”. Given the sometimes challenging view of car dealers I was delighted and have since bought my second Lexus. The first time ever I have bought the same make two vehicles in a row.
Recently when I had my vehicle serviced Lexus also touched up scratches at no cost, further delighting me and saving me dollars. And I’ve now told many people about the Lexus level of service…I wonder how much that will be worth to them. I wonder how much it would be worth if every one of your customers related a similar story to their contacts.
What can you do in your business to delight your customers and win their loyalty so they spend more with you more often, become raving fans promoting your business for you and spending with you for many years?
Be consistent with your service and WOW and delight your customers. Sometimes because there is an issue and sometimes just because you can.
Other ideas to support your service proposition and WOW/delight purchasers:
Make it easy for purchasers to buy from you.
Remove any artificial barriers that may exist.
Make it easy to contact you, everyone in your business is a sales person, open the hours your purchaser expects, take the forms of payment your purchasers want, keep you website easy to transact on, remove credit card surcharges if they cause complaints, call purchasers back pronto, etc, etc
Acknowledge when you make a mistake.
Making mistakes is allowed, it’s what you do about them that makes the difference. Making a mistake is a fantastic opportunity to really WOW your customers. Fix the issue with something unexpected.
The meal my wife ordered last night in a local restaurant arrive undercooked and cold. Someone made a mistake. The meal was replaced immediately, the manager/owner personally apologised and at the end of the evening we were not charged. Because of the way the mistake was resolved, yes we will be return purchasers.
Pass on a discount occasionally just to say thank you
Deliver a purchase at no cost
Free gift wrapping and free card at Christmas
Call just to say thank you for the business.
Offer free samples and ask for feedback from the purchaser about the product or service. Involve purchasers in your decision process for new offers.
Ask your purchasers for feedback, survey them.
The ideas are endless and they are designed to retain, involve and build positive relationships with your purchasers. To take them from suspect to raving fans.
Every time you WOW/delight a purchaser you make a deposit into their emotional bank account. You build your credibility and the respect they have for your business. When you do make a mistake and your bank account if full it is highly likely you will be forgiven and retain the purchaser. When you stop making deposits into their emotional bank account they will think you don’t care and they may look elsewhere, your business now has one less purchaser.
Simple really, so why do so many businesses do just the opposite…deflate their purchasers and show they really don’t care.
Great Service is Consistent, Proactive, and Innovative. To reap the maximum result it must be a conscious strategy in your business. You are unlikely to survive long-term if you do not make the delivery of fanatical customer service the number one priority in your business.
Understanding who your Purchasers are and their value to your business.
Borrowed from Wikipedia
The Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Named after economist Vilfredo Pareto from a study in 1896. It is a common rule of thumb in business; e.g., “80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.” 80% of the value will come from 20% of the content.
Therefore if this is the case, and it most likely is in your business, your challenge is to find out which of your purchasers fit into the top 20%. This is fairly easy in most modern businesses that keep accurate records of purchases by customers. The 80/20 rule typically also applies to the products and services that you offer. 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your products and services. In mass market businesses like retail where you do not know every customer, knowing which products give you 80% allows you to make decisions about the customers who purchase these.
When you know in detail what you sell and who buys these products and services you are able to make well considered business decisions and reward those customers who support your business. Remember creating “Members” in your business is a step to creating “Raving Fans”
One thing to consider about your top 20% is that typically they will know people just like themselves. Recognise, reward and look after them and often they will recommend other purchasers who will also become part of the top 20% in your larger business.
Analyse your data base, work out your top customers and bestselling products and services. Study what motivates behaviour in this area and develop tactics to encourage more of the same plus design tactics that encourage your best purchasers to refer your business.
Rate your customers:
Most businesses will have A, B, C and D purchasers. Understanding who fits at which level also assists your decision making.
A purchaser Awesome – Spends well, pays on time, promotes your business to others, is in your top 20% and stays for the long haul.
B purchaser Basic – Regular spenders, pay on time. The silent majority.
C purchasers Can’t Deal With – Don’t spend much, slow payers or no payers, complain without reason, want more than they are prepared to pay for, time wasters.
D purchasers Dead – Stop buying, will not be back. Were probably a C who decided to give grief to someone else?
Clearly your challenge is to create more A’s in a bigger business, encourage your B’s to become A’s, either move your C’s to B’s or move them out the door to D’s, don’t waste too much time and money on them. Simply sack them if you need to, this can be very liberating, just do it professionally.
Why Purchasers leave you and how to stop them leaving:
Research shows that the reasons are:
1% – Passed away and will no longer buy from anyone on this earth.
3% – Move House away from your area of business.
5% – Buy from a friend, they know someone who sell your product or service.
9% – Sold to by a competitor, your competitor got under your guard and you lost the sale.
14% – Purchaser perceived that they could get a better Product or Price from someone else.
Total 32% of purchasers leave your business for reasons that you had only a little control over.
That leaves 68% who left you because ????
They believe you just don’t care that they spend their hard earned $$$$’s with you.
Solution is pretty obvious really! Show you care.
- Know their names and something about them
- Say thank you at every opportunity
- Give them something for free, just because you can
- Provide a membership card with real benefits
- Do something they did not expect
- As the owner, speak to them directly
- Under promise and over deliver
- Be consistent
- Smiles from all team members
- Did I mention Say thank you at every opportunity
To state the obvious.
Purchasers provide profit that supports you and your family, your team and their families, your suppliers, the growth of your business, etc, etc.
Don’t let your purchasers believe that you just don’t care.
The only real defining difference between you and your competitors is the level of service you offer and your understanding and management of your customers. Be very good at this and everything else will fall into place.