Nine Things Your Customers Will Never Tell You - Management
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Nine Things Your Customers Will Never Tell You

Written By Richard Ensman

Article Date: 08-01-2005
Copyright (C) 2005 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.

(Or nine ways to lose a customer and never know why.)

Make a serious mistake and your customer will let you know about it – fast. Payment errors, quality defects, and other obvious problems will motivate your customer to call you quickly. But what happens when your customer perceives a less-obvious, intangible problem involving your communication style, temperament, or personal behavior? Will your customer call you? Not likely. In fact, if your customer perceives the problem as serious enough, he might even fail to buy from you in the future – and never tell you why.

Worse still, even if your customer generally likes the way you do business, he might happen upon an alternative distributor who offers something you don’t, and quickly change his buying habits.

Here, then, are nine things customers will probably never tell you. They can have a profound impact on your sales:

  1. “You patronize me. I don’t like the oversimplistic way you describe your product. I feel as if you’re talking down to me.” Lesson: Always ask if your customer wants more or less detail; don’t assume.
  2. “You don’t keep up with trends. I want to be able to send questions and product queries by e-mail, but I’ve discovered you’re not ‘wired.’ That makes me think you might not be up on other things as well.” Or: “You always seem a step behind the latest product developments.” Lesson: Each year, identify three of the top business and technological trends in your field, and develop a plan to stay current. Equally important, let your customers know you’re staying current.
  3. “I’d buy more if you asked me. I have so many needs, but you don’t seem to recognize them. Maybe you have other products or services that would make my life easier, but I have no way of knowing.” Lesson: Instead of simply describing your products to your customers, delve into their businesses to find more ways to help them.
  4. ” I don’t like your manners. I don’t like the way you try to do two things at once while you’re talking to me.” Or: “You interrupt me when I’m talking to you.” Or: “Your failure to use formal titles bothers me.” Lesson: Mind your manners.
  5. “Your style upsets me. I don’t like the salty language you use in my presence.” Or: “Things always seem disorganized in your office or shop. I can’t help but wonder if you’re all that organized.” Or: “I’m bothered by what I see as a lack of professionalism in your habits.” Or: “Your procedures appear overly bureaucratic (or not formal enough).” And the list could go on and on. Lesson: Watch your customers’ interpersonal and professional demeanor. Respect it by watching your demeanor.
  6. “You’re inconsistent. Ninety percent of the time I know you’ll do exactly what you promised. But it’s the other 10% that I’m never sure about.” Lesson: Aim for 100% consistency. If you’re not going to be able to meet the customer’s terms, let your customer know the minute you realize there might be a problem.
  7. “You don’t respect my time. I have to wait on the telephone when I want to talk with you. When I leave a message, you don’t call back promptly, and this inconveniences me.” Lesson: Save your customer’s time before you save your own.
  8. “You were rude to my ssistant. All she wanted was some simple delivery information. She didn’t deserve the run-around you gave her.” Lesson: Treat customers’ secretaries and administrative assistants just as you’d treat your customers.
  9. “I’m talking to the competition all the time. Face it: It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. I want to save money and time, and get the best deal I can, so it’s only natural that I keep looking for other distributors of goods and services.” Lesson: Ask your customers to provide you with regular feedback.
Bottom line
Listen to anything your customers tell you. But equally important, stay attuned to what they don’t tell you. The result: valuable clues that can keep those all-important customer relationships intact for a long time.

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Article Categories:  Customers/Contractors  »  Management