Stay Away From The Race To The Bottom

Stay Away From The Race To The Bottom

Customer, Featured, Planning

It can happen in any industry. One company decides to lower their prices. Then another decides to match or beat them. Then a third. Before you know it, the companies are locked in a race to the bottom to see who can offer the lowest price. By lowering the price, the company hopes to bring in new customers. There are several problems with this theory though.

  • Customer loyalty: Customers that jump on to the lowest are not loyal customers. Studies with coupons have shown that customers whose main focus is price will jump to another product if that price is lower. Customers that are drawn in by low prices are difficult and expensive to keep.
  • Quality: There is only so much you can cut prices before it affects the quality of your product or service. That loss in quality will chase away your existing customers, even as the price brings in new ones.
  • It’s tough to climb back up: Once customers get used to paying a lower or discounted price it becomes difficult to get them to pay higher prices for the same product or service. Walmart found this out when they tried to raise prices. They faced an exodus of customers who went elsewhere in search of lower prices.

Stay out of the race to the bottom. Compete on quality or compete on results. Competing on price is a minefield.

Stay Motivated By Focusing On Your Customer

Stay Motivated By Focusing On Your Customer

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured

motivatedRoutines have good and bad results. The good is that they provide consistency. The bad is that they can sap your motivation. Doing the same thing over and over can be mind numbing. How can you stay motivated?

One way is to focus on your customer. We all want to know that what we do matters. Remembering that what you do affects and helps people can boost your motivation. Creating a concrete picture of your impact can be self-affirming as well as motivational. Studies have shown that cooks feel more motivated and work harder when they see people eating their food, for example. Even if the results of your work aren’t tangible, thinking about specific names and stories of those who benefit from your efforts can offer a window into the good that you are doing.

Go beyond what you do and look at what effects your work has. Look at what your customer is ultimately getting. Your work allows them to improve their work. That allows them to make a better living and improve their life. Your product keeps your customer safe. Your work alleviates a problem that held your customer back. Whatever it is, the key is to make a direct connection from your work to those who benefit.

To learn how a Modern Observer coach can help you, use the contact form here

Human Behavior Is Not Data Driven

Human Behavior Is Not Data Driven

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured

In the world of big data, everyone’s information is being collected, analyzed, and acted upon. So if all of this data is being used, why don’t things happen the way they are predicted? The answer comes down to one fact: human behavior is not data driven.

People act and react emotionally. Buying patterns are emotionally driven. People will research and use data to choose what to buy or, more often, to justify their purchases, but the decision of what and when to buy are emotional at their core. To build rapport with your customers, you must connect with them on an emotional level.

Research shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs. That means appealing to any of dozens of “emotional motivators” such as a desire to feel a sense of belonging, to succeed in life, or to feel secure.

Decide how you can best connect on an emotional level and put that at the core of every interaction you have with your customer.

You’re Working For Your Customer

You’re Working For Your Customer

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured

awardsIt may seem obvious that you should be working for your customer, but it seems to be a fact that eludes many people. Very often I hear the comment that people are working to impress their peers. While this seems to be most prevalent in design, marketing, and programming, it does appear in all industries.

While peer recognition is gratifying, it won’t keep you in business. Your bottom line depends on solving your customers problems, not impressing your peers.Here are three things to keep in mind when moving forward on a project:

  • The Customer Has A Problem: A customer comes to you because they are unsatisfied. They have a problem  and want it solved. They may not be able to articulate what the exact problem is, but they know it exists.
  • Your Customer Is Relying On You: They have come to you for a solution. They don’t care what programming language you use or what method you use as long as you solve the problem.
  • Your Customer Is Your Boss: This is not the same as ‘the customer is always right.’ They are paying for a service that solves their problem. They are the reason you are in business and they are keeping you in business.
Make Decisions Simpler for Your Customers

Make Decisions Simpler for Your Customers

Customer, Featured, Improvement

choiceWhen asked, consumers almost always say they want more options. But their purchasing behavior often indicates otherwise. Consumers are often overwhelmed by the flood of product information and choices available to them. Many report unnecessarily agonizing over trivial purchases. This cognitive overload causes them to make poor decisions, repeatedly change their minds, give up on purchases altogether, or regret the purchases they do make — none of which is good for your brand. Help your customers simplify their decisions. You can reduce choice by getting rid of less popular products. Or you can simplify their choices by helping them navigate their options and giving them trustworthy information they can use to weigh the alternatives.

Know Your Customers

Know Your Customers

Customer, Featured

customersI don’t remember the last time I watched any tv show (other than the news) live. I watch everything on-demand. I don’t record them, I watch the networks on-demand services, so they know it’s on-demand and they know when I’m watching. So it came as a surprise when I noticed that a large number of the ads that were showing up were for events (Golden Globes and Inauguration coverage) that had already occurred and weren’t available on-demand. Advertising for something that can’t be watched or purchased is a waste of money, effort and time.

Online tracking systems are not perfect. An example is that for some reason YouTube is convinced I speak Spanish. I have no idea what they’re trying to sell me because I don’t speak Spanish. They can tell my system is in the northeast and they can tell that the only thing I ever watched in Spanish was someone singing “Feliz Navidad” so they should not assume I speak Spanish.

It is crucial that you understand who your customers are. Otherwise your message will fall on deaf ears.

Integrate Social Media With Your Operations

Integrate Social Media With Your Operations

Communication, Customer, Featured, Process

social mediaRecently I saw a post on the Facebook page of a company I follow that stated, if you have questions about your order contact customer service. It went on to say, “This page is for updates only.” This statement is an example of how companies are still failing to use social media properly.

Too many companies look at social media as just a marketing tool. While it does work for that, that’s like saying the phone is just a sales tool because you call prospects on it. Companies need to be more flexible. The same problem happens in phone banks where you call a company and get a representative who tells you that your problem is handled by a different division and you need to call another number.

This is a result of creating silos in businesses. Each department has their own job and they don’t look at the other parts of the company, they don’t talk with the other parts of the company, and don’t interact. Silos prevent companies from being innovative. They are designed to maintain the status quo. Social media, on the other hand, is a tool for breaking down the status quo. To compete in today’s market, the silos need to come down.

If your company has a Facebook page, someone should be monitoring the page regularly for comments from your customers. That’s the core of social media. It’s two-way communication. If someone posted a question about their order, that request should be passed on to the proper people and they should contact the customer. If someone contacts your company, they should be able to accomplish anything they need to do, without being sent somewhere else.

Companies need to break down the silos that are impeding their customers. The more silos a company has, the more places there are where someone can drop the ball. Communication across lines doesn’t just help the customer. It makes the business run smother and enhances innovation by applying ideas from other areas. It is a strategic advantage when you can cross pollinate ideas, build teams across departments, and service your clients wherever they may be.

Not Costing Money Isn’t The Same As Free

Not Costing Money Isn’t The Same As Free

Customer, Featured

financeMany companies have free offers. Many of them aren’t really free. The rise of the term BOGO (buy one get one) is an example. Since you have to buy something it isn’t free. Some offers don’t cost you any money, but that doesn’t make them free.

One of the most notable offenders is Ambit Energy. If you’re not familiar with the company, they are an electricity supplier that sells energy is several states where you are not required to buy from your local utility. Ambit’s sales pitch is that you can get free energy. It isn’t really free though. They provide the energy in exchange for you selling their services. If you sell their energy, instead of paying you a commission or a salary they take the money off your electric bill, giving you “free” energy.

Before jumping into a free offer, make sure you know what the real cost is.

Lessons From A Campaign

Lessons From A Campaign

Customer, Featured, Improvement

electionsNo matter how you feel about the 2016 presidential campaign and its outcomes, there are some lessons that businesspeople can take from it.

Don’t Assume Your Customers Are Loyal: One of the things that contributed to Hillary’s loss was that she assumed traditionally Democratic states would continue to vote Democrat. Wisconsin switched to vote Republican in part because Hillary ignored the state and didn’t visit once during the general campaign. If you don’t pay attention to your customers, they will leave.

Your Customer’s Goals Matter More Than Yours: Customers will stay with you as long as you are helping them do what they want. Hillary publicly stated that her energy policies would shut down the coal industry. This cost her Ohio and western Pennsylvania which rely on that industry. Once they knew she was not going to help them, they left her base.

Treat People Better Than You Want To Be Treated: Trump lost huge groups because of his callous insults. Hillary lost votes because she referred to people as “deplorable.”  Many of these people would have voted differently (or voted at all) if they didn’t feel abused by the candidates. Even if someone is not your customer, they might be at some point. You have to treat them as you would your best customer if you want them to become one.

How You Should Negotiate New Assignments

How You Should Negotiate New Assignments

Customer, Featured, Planning

freelanceWelcome to the gig economy. More and more people are working for themselves for multiple companies. The trend is accelerating to the point that most believe it will become the dominant form of employment within the next 25 years. as a result the importance of negotiating a fair rate and relationship for your work is paramount. Here’s what to keep in mind during your next negotiation with a client:

  • Remember, it’s agile. You’ll be expected to contribute on day one. Therefore, your negotiation should be based on a well-defined, realistic, and well-communicated plan of what you can achieve, by when, and how.
  • Do your homework. Take the time to get to know the organization in advance — its business, strategy, values, and relevant news — and bring real organizational insight to the negotiation.
  • Establish your value. Negotiate from a position of power by making it indisputably clear — through your portfolio or client recommendations, for example — that you’re at the top of your field and will do a great job.
  • Know the value of the work to the organization. Smart negotiators know what success will provide the company, and what failure will cost.