Fiduciary Responsibility Isn’t Just For Finance

Fiduciary Responsibility Isn’t Just For Finance

Customer, Featured, Focus, Leadership

responsibilityBy law financial advisors are required to act with fiduciary responsibility. This means they are required to put the client’s best interests before there own. This is a concept that isn’t just for financial advisors, it should be applied in every industry.

Your customer is the reason you are in business. Your customer is the reason you get paid. You are there to solve a problem for your customer. For these reasons and many others, you should be putting your customer before yourself. It is a step above customer service. It is about trust. When your customer knows that they are taken care of they come back over and over again. They refer more clients to you because they know you will take care of the people they refer.

In an episode of “Mad Men” Peter Campbell is told that Ken Cosgrove is getting a job they were both competing for. The reason he is given is that while he makes his clients feel that their needs are being met, Ken makes his clients feel as if they have no needs. Meeting a client’s needs is about them telling you what they need and you filling that need. Making a client feel as though they have no needs is about building a trust in which they feel they don’t need to say anything because they trust that you’ve already taken care of it for them.

Serving a customer is about creating an experience that the customer feels safe and happy. Building trust is a crucial part of it.

Some People Will Never Buy

Some People Will Never Buy

Customer, Evaluate, Featured

purchaseRecently online radio broadcast service Spotify went public. When it did, analysts discussed their business models. The service offers two services, ad-supported and paid. One analyst stated that Spotify could convert all of its ad supported users to paid users. While this is a nice thought for a company it is unrealistic. The truth is some people will never buy.

Once you hook customers in with a free or ad supported product, history has shown that only a small percentage convert to a paid product. This was a problem that many newspapers faced when they debuted their online versions. They started as free access sites that relied on ads. When ad revenues failed to meet expectations, they tried to put news behind a paywall. They found that very few of the people reading the free version were convinced to buy subscriptions.

If you have a free service, there will always be a group of people who are happy with it and see no reason to pay for more. Efforts to convert this group is waste of your time and effort. Identify them the best you can. While you focus your sales efforts on customers that are interested in your paid offerings, work to turn this audience into brand evangelists. They may not want to buy, but if they like your product enough, they can turn into a great way to get the word out about your product or service, build word-of-mouth, and provide referrals of people who may buy higher priced offerings.

What Happens When You Don’t Change With Your Customers

What Happens When You Don’t Change With Your Customers

Customer, Featured

At the time of this writing, another Oscar ceremony has been telecast. While the ratings appear to be breaking records, its not a record anyone wanted to break. The 2018 Oscars are poised to have the lowest ratings in the show’s history. Why? The simple answer is that the show has two very different audiences: the audience in the auditorium and the audience on television and those audiences have less and less in common.

The Oscars are very clearly focused on their audience in the auditorium. The awards ceremony was created to serve the needy people desperate for recognition. The audience is restless to hear their names and to pontificate on issues they know nothing about in an effort to prove they can do more than read from a script (although this was not part of early telecasts). It wasn’t until years after the creation of the ceremony that it was televised. At the time, the new medium of television brought glamorous lives into living rooms across the country, eager to see a part of life they didn’t have access to before. The problem is the second audience changed, and the telecast didn’t.

As television and then social media grew, the audience was inundated with award shows and celebrities spouting off on every issue. What was a once a year event became commonplace. With dozens of award shows now being telecast, the Oscars don’t stand out. On top of that, in an age where millions of people are dropping cable for internet-based streaming services, Oscar’s partner ABC has the smallest presence in internet television. Most of those people who cut the cord can’t see the show even if they want to. Additionally, while the audience in the auditorium is largely homogenous on issues, the audience at home clearly isn’t. The pontificating has chased off almost half of their audience.

The takeaway here is that you have to adapt to your audience. When others enter your market, you must strive to set yourself apart. When you make changes to your product or service, they can’t be changes that segment and alienate large portions of your audience. Snapchat just learned this the hard way as they redesigned their app to almost universal disappointment among their customers. Pay attention to how your customer’s needs change and change with them.

Partnering With Clients

Partnering With Clients

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured, Leadership

handshake“Partnering” has become one of those overused buzzwords that has lost its meaning. Every company talks about partnering with their clients. While it is imperative that you become a partner to your client, without understanding what that means, the term is useless.

  • Partnering is not selling: Selling products or services to your client is not partnering. That’s what every business does. Partnering with a customer does not mean offering discounts. Partnering is not about sales. It is about the service you give during and after the sales.
  • Partnering requires understanding: I get a great many solicitations from companies that claim they want to partner with me. Further reading shows they have no idea what I do and simply grabbed my contact information from a mailing list. To be a partner with your client, you must understand what they do and have an understanding of their industry. What are the industry trends? What are your clients strengths and weaknesses? What is their competition doing? If you can answer these questions, you are partnering with your client.
  • Does your client call you with questions?: The real key to partnering with clients is if they consider you a partner. Do they call you with questions? Are you a source for information? Does your client rely on you for more than just what you sold them? Those are the signs that your client considers you a true partner.

 

How Do You Make Your Customer Feel?

How Do You Make Your Customer Feel?

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured, Improvement

motivatedOn Friday, November 3, the iPhone X became available in stores. As with most iPhone releases, people lined up to get one. Reporters covering the event talked to the first person to get one. He didn’t talk about the technology or the price. What he couldn’t stop talking about was how Apple made him feel. Everything he talked about was about the experience, not the product.

Creating an experience is key to customer loyalty. When your competition is only a mouse click away, that experience keeps a customer coming back. It’s about how the customer is treated, what they see, hear, smell and feel (if you’re running a restaurant it’s also about taste). An all encompassing experience is what gets people to come to your location or event. It’s about the impression you give before the sale and the customer service after the sale.

Think about the complete experience your customer has. It goes well beyond the sale and will bring them back for more.

To see how The Modern Observer Group can help you create a customer experience, contact us here.

Go Beyond Demographics

Go Beyond Demographics

Customer, Featured, Improvement

psychographicsIt’s important to know who your customers are. When you ask most business people about their customers, they respond by giving you the demographics of their audience. It’s good to have demographic informations such as age, gender, income, and geographic location. However, demographics can be misleading. Political analysts will tell you that according to the demographics of the country, Hillary should have won the presidency. The problem is demographics just skim the surface. What you need to understand your customers are psychographics.

Psychographic information includes habits, hobbies, spending patterns and values. Demographics explain “who” your customer is, while psychographics explain “why” they buy. Knowing the psychographics of your customers enable you to create real connections with them.

To gather psychographics you must have real conversations with your customers. Get to know them and ask them about themselves. The more you understand why they do what they do, the better you can help them.

Demographics are the tip of the iceberg. For lasting business relationships, you need to go deeper.

To find out how The Modern Observer Group can help you connect with your customers, contact us here.

Why You Should Want To Put Yourself Out Of Business

Why You Should Want To Put Yourself Out Of Business

Attitude and Mindset, Customer, Featured

It may be one of the strangest concepts a business person can encounter, but to be truly successful your goal should be to put yourself;f out of business. I can hear you saying, “Why would I ever want that?” It comes down to the core reason any business exists: to solve a problem.

You are in business to solve a problem. If you’re not solving a problem, why would anyone do business with you? However, if you take the concept of problem solving to its logical conclusion, if you can solve that problem for everyone you will no longer be in business. Can you run a profitable business without solving the problem? Of course. That’s the basic business model for most pharmaceutical companies. They don’t cure the disease, they treat it so you have to keep treating it. There is nothing wrong with treating a problem rather than solving it, but which would your customer rather have?

The fact is if you solve a problem, it is unlikely that you will reach the point where you solve it for everyone. When you solve a problem, your customers will bring you more people with that problem, expanding your customer base. They are also more likely to come to you with new problems, giving you new target markets and potential products or services. Your business will be able to adapt to new circumstances to become a new company. When telegrams were no longer necessary, Western Union was able to use the same systems to transfer money.

So aim to put yourself out of business. Your customers will reward you for it.

Why You Need A Customer Retention Plan

Why You Need A Customer Retention Plan

Customer, Featured, Improvement

customersMost businesses are very focused on bringing in new business. Once they get the business, they lose that focus. We’ve all had bad customer experiences, when a company doesn’t seem to want to solve your problem. No matter how well you sell, no matter how great your product or service is, you need to have a process to keep your customers coming back.

Here are six reasons that you need to focus on customer retention.

  1. Existing Customers Are More Profitable: Researchers have repeatedly conducted studies to determine the expense of gaining new clients versus the expense of retaining one.  These studies have proven that it can be up to five times more expensive to win over a prospect than it is to keep an existing client.  Furthermore, existing clients are far more likely to increase their business with you by taking advantage of additional products or services.
  2. Satisfied, Loyal Customers Refer Other Business To You: Satisfied customers can contribute to your sales efforts through their recommendations.  In essence, they become a referral source.  Satisfied, loyal customers make particularly useful referral sources because they are able to provide a first-hand testimonial when recommending you to someone they know who could benefit from your business.
  3. Service Is More Memorable Than Products Or Prices: Price doesn’t have as much sway in the sales world as it once did.  That isn’t to say that price doesn’t matter, or that customers aren’t drawn to lower prices, just that they just rank customer service higher than price or product these days.  Most people are willing to pay a little more for a product or service if it means having an amiable relationship with a business.
  4.  They Will Take Their Business Elsewhere: Customers, by and large, are non-confrontational.  Most will not outright voice their complaints.  Instead, they will simply take their business to your competition.  Don’t assume your customers are completely satisfied if they are not complaining — remember, they vote with their pocketbook.
  5. Satisfied Customers Are Loyal Customers: A customer’s loyalty to your business directly relates to your customer service.  The better you treat your customers — that is, the stronger and more exceptional your customer service is — the more satisfied they will be.  And the more satisfied they are, the more loyal they become.
  6. Existing Customers Provide Better Metrics: One of the most effective ways to improve your business is through your existing customer base — by taking advantage of customer satisfaction surveys.  We recommend doing both an e-mail survey and a snail mail survey once a year, 6 months apart.

Customer satisfaction doesn’t just happen. You need to focus on it and create a process to ensure that customers keep coming back.  However, you need to make sure that you don’t make the one mistake that most customer service plans make.

Don’t Use A One-Level System: Most companies use a one-level system for customer service. What does that mean? It means the person directly in front of you is very happy with you. But what about the people waiting on line behind that person. Are they happy or have you spent so much time on the person in front of you that they have become aggravated, or worse, have they left altogether.   The process you use needs to keep in mind that you have more than one customer (at least I hope you have more than one customer). Create a process that treats all your customers well, whether they’re in front of you or not

Are You Where Your Customers Are?

Are You Where Your Customers Are?

Customer, Featured

Being accessible to your customers seems like it should be a no-brainer. After all, you want your customers to buy from you, so why wouldn’t you make it easy for your people to use you. Even established companies make decisions that make life more difficult for them than it needs to be.

For example, when the Atlanta Falcons unveiled their new stadium, it was obvious that someone had to feed the millions of football fans that would attend the games. However, one of those vendors is Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A. Fans of both football and Chick-fil-A will already see a problem. The Falcons, like every other NFL team, play the vast majority of their games on Sunday. Chick-fil-A is closed on Sunday (and the chain has announced that the location in the stadium will be closed on Sunday).

Why would you close a store when most of your customers will be there? It sounds ridiculous but many businesses do just that by not having a website or not being active on social media. Your clients are online. Your customers are on their smartphones. Are you there so you can find them? Nearly 50% of small businesses in the United States don’t have a website. How many customers do you think that costs? Make sure that you have a presence where your customers are and that you’re open for business when they get there.

For more information about how the Modern Observer Group can get you in front of potential customers, contact us here.

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.