Interesting business conversations can crop up just about anywhere—if you’re paying attention and know exactly how, and when, to jump in. Such was the case the other day, during an informal meeting with a potential client.
Informal, because our entire meeting took place at the checkout counter of her specialty food market. I knew from the start, that there would be interruptions, but I didn’t realize until I was in the moment, just how valuable it was to see the interaction between a business owner and customer in real time. Certainly, this is not a rarity. However, for companies who provide business support services, being privy to an unfiltered exchange of dialogue, body posture, tone of voice, and other relationship-quality cues, provides critical information on how your client is doing beyond dollars.
While I watched and listened, I quickly cleaned that regardless of the customer profile—young mom, older mom, young professional, older male professional, contractor—everyone was there for the same reasons: customer service, convenience, quality, selection, personal touch and comfort.
But what really got my attention, was an eloquent dissection of modern commerce and culture, by a “regular,” whose profession is financial advising. In short, he sighted examples of rushed, impersonal experiences; and lamented the supersizing of shops, malls, grocery stores, restaurants and movie theaters. All of it, he said, was spurring conversations among his peers, about feeling disconnected in a world in which we’ve been led to believe, has us more connected.
Whether you’re Fortune 500 or small and family-owned, his words underscore traditional values that have taken companies from good to great, and from one decade into another. And, it also reveals something we all know but tend to overlook, that people—and companies—are much more alike than they are different.
When Mr. Financial Advisor’s clients come to him, they’re seeking piece of mind; a sense of comfort that financial stability won’t elude them…that he, the person they’ve entrusted, understands their unique needs and knows how to respond to them in a customized manner. THIS, is what all customers want from the companies and individuals in whom they invest their time, money and trust.
So how can your business, large or small, be there for your customers, and avoid creating sentiments such as those expressed above? This article offers 10 tips that should be common sense, but too often get overlooked. No. 8, “Own Up to Mistakes,” is the one that scares business owners. But if you face your imperfections, talk the situation through with your customer/client, and learn from the experience, you’ll gain more than you lose.
As you fine-tune your customer service, you’ll also be building a better brand reputation. Though big brands are a tough act to follow, smaller companies should pay attention to what they’re doing, and how they’re interacting with customers that they don’t have the advantage of engaging with in-person.
This Entrepreneur.com article reveals the reasons many big brands have made it to the top, and are staying there. Smaller businesses can scale these principles down and find ways to recreate similar experiences based on the information they already have about customers. Every business can do better by living up to its promise and showing off a can-do attitude.
How are you incorporating these principles? What are you doing to provide better, more consistent customer service, convenience, quality, selection, personal touch and comfort?