Lining up financing and writing a marketing plan are among the crucial standard steps that entrepreneurs take to launch or fortify a business. But a firm is doomed to mediocrity or failure if it doesn’t know how it’s going to thrill its customers, contends Mark Stevens in Your Company Sucks: It’s Time to Declare War on Yourself.
Stevens, who runs a management and marketing firm and blogs about unconventional thinking, suggests several ways to surprise and delight your clients:
1. Tell customers “It’s always business hours for you”: How many times have you approached the door of a business, only to have the proprietor flash the “Closed” sign in your face? You can read his expression like a book: “Too bad. You missed your chance. We’re going home for the day.” Contrast this with a business that, when a customer asks for sales or service after hours, opens the doors and warmly invites her in. That creates the sort of thrill that even a great sale event can’t equal.
2. Discover your clients’ passions and cater to them: Stevens’ father mentioned at a furniture store that he was a fly-fishing addict, and the merchant took note. A week later, the merchant sent him a box of handmade flies as a thank-you gift. After that, Stevens’ father wouldn’t even think of buying from anyone else.
3. Offer customers an enticing product in a category they didn’t expect you to carry: Stevens’ favourite haircutter broke from convention by selling bold and unusual cufflinks on its display counter rather than the usual hair products. The author often buys a pair, and the display has turned getting a haircut into a multifaceted experience.
4. Appoint a chief customer officer (CCO) dedicated to making your firm a joy to do business with: This should be someone with an aptitude for seeing things from the customers’ point of view and a passion for thrilling them. If every company had a CCO, retail establishments would have clean washrooms, websites would make it easy to find the information you need and complete a transaction, and a member of a hotel loyalty program who’s checking into a near-empty hotel and asks for an upgrade wouldn’t be told “It’s against policy.” Consumers used to shabby service from most firms would be thrilled if yours treated them with the thoughtfulness and consideration they deserve.