How to know what your client really thinks about you, your company and your services
In the early stages of a business, and even at times of re-organization, we can be lured to direct our focus toward the shiny objects of brand impression and lose sight of the cheapest way to win and serve clients.
Many companies focus their first budgets toward branding, getting a sharp logo, website and business cards. Often the marketing team worries about colors, tag lines and if the website copy is optimized for SEO.
These are all fair objectives in a marketing plan yet without this next piece, all of it, including the thousands of dollars, many weeks of time invested will all fall massively short.
You are in business for one reason and, honestly, one reason only… all the rest is fluff.
Fun fluff. Interesting fluff. Yet fluff that requires the most important part of any marketing plan.
Extraordinary delivery of value.
If you are a serious business owner, one that seeks to build a sustainable brand, a growth curve and steady profits, you are first in business to serve your customers.
What our customers think about our services and how they implement our services into their lives creates a bond that no amount of money on branding will make up for.
How customers referred to us when speaking to other people reflects our value in their lives.
Branding simply becomes the icing on the cake, the cherry on top when our products and services speak for themselves.
The best way to know how your customers perceive you and the value you bring to their lives is by asking.
For some business owners, this will take courage. We need to be willing to hear where we need to improve, more so than hearing how we are doing well.
Here is a script that you can send out via email or text to solicit and gather the honest opinions from your top 10 customers and I challenge you to also send this out to your top three least loved customers.
At “XYZ Company” we are highly interested in improving the delivery of services, and products you come top us for. We can only do this with honest feedback from you.
As a highly valued customer, we depend on your honest feedback.
Can you please email back the answers to the following three questions. We are 100% open to anything and everything you have to share. Thank you for being honest and forthcoming.
- If you were at a cocktail party and had the chance to introduce me to a friend, how would you refer to me/ our company?
- What are three things (if three come to mind) that we do very well and you find value in for your life?
- What are three areas we can improve that would add even more value to your life?
Make a commitment to connection and feedback
Surveying the effectiveness of your services, products, team support, follow through, sales team, technology interfaces, billing and accounting departments at least twice a year will do more than simply engage your customers.
When your team and staff realize that reaching out to your customer base is a normal occurrence, what I have seen is that they become more self accountable, mindful of customer interactions and quality of service and products, and fuel and ownership toward the delivery of the brand into the marketplace.
When the feedback is suburb, reward your team. When the feedback is average, or poor, no need to beat up your team, gather them and get their input on how to put in place the feedback you all have received. Form a plan, have the team designate who is taking responsibility for that area and commit to meeting on a regular basis and polling your same clients until the feedback becomes raving.
Just watch the referrals roll in.
We refer people who value us, our feedback and our patronage.
When this new habit becomes instilled din your company culture, your customers will become you greatest marketing arm. Watch the testimonials, referrals and long term loyalty roll in.
But what if I am a brand new business?
A brand new business, can approach the script above with great energy and fascination. If you are seeking to find your first customers, use the script as a research project. Find 10 prospective clients you would love to have, call them up and ask if they could answer just three questions for you.
This is how I did it.
One of my first businesses, I decided to start a technical consulting firm providing great on demand technical help to small professional offices including lawyers, doctors, Cpa’s and financial planners.
I knew how to implement software, build networks, train staff and write macros. Yet I did not really know what my customers may need.
I took out the yellow pages ( yes it was that long ago) and, by size the ads they purchased, found the top law firms, CPA firms, financial planners and general practitioner doctors offices in my area.
I called them up, connected with the office manager, and asked for just three minutes of their time.
I am starting a new firm on “Bellaire Avenue in the Frost Bank Building” and am polling my neighbors to see what you see as your top challenges in managing your systems and reporting. Any feedback will be of help.
I know you have a firm that helps you with these problems, so if you ever need a number two on your list, I will send you a brochure.
Hint: Most of the time they had no company supporting them and they would share that openly. In that case I would share that the package will get to them in a day or so and I will follow up next seek to see how they loved it. ( Catch that I used the word LOVE – it magical )
I took the data, and put it in a letter to that person thanking them for their time. I would send a gift, usually a small book and a bag of chocolates. Chocolate makes people happy.
Then on Monday the following week, at 3 pm, I would stop in and ask how they loved the chocolates. Of course, I had another bag off chocolates because those would usually be all gone.
Then I would ask if I could talk to the person who answered my questions. I would shake their hand and thank them for helping a new company who is dedicated to serving our community. The conversation would build to me asking to help with the #1 problem they had mentioned. I would go in solve the problem and voila, build rapport.
This is how I got all but two of my first 20 or so clients. In my first month in business with The Workstation, that was the name of the firm, I billed out $18,000 and in the first quarter, we collected over $60,000. I never once borrowed money nor went into debt with that firm.
Oh and I did not have a website until month three.
As a startup, you first become a research company aiming to solve the biggest of your prospective client’s problems. After all, isn’t that what you are building a business?
Seek to know more about their pains and problems than they know about your brand, logo or website.
Solve problems. Become valuable and you will have clients for life.