A well-known observation is that a significant source of new customers for many businesses is word-of-mouth advertising.

Keep in mind the negative side of this. Bad comments can drive away prospective customers.

Traditional statistics are that customers tell three to five people, and dissatisfied customers tell 10 people.

What has been the impact of the internet on this? A ten-fold increase? A hundred-fold increase?

It depends on the size and characteristics of your business.

What can a business manager do to effectively address this?

One approach that I discuss in two of the Lunch and Learn workshop I conduct at the Roane County Chamber of Commerce is determining how you want your customers to describe your business.

Here is an overview of the steps I recommend:
• A 20-second speech that you wish your customers would say when asked about your business
• Be sure all of your employees understand the description
• Be certain that every customer interaction projects this description.

I have found that the use of examples helps with the understanding of business concepts.

As an example, let’s use an electrical service company that specializes in household upgrades and repairs.

Here is the target speech by the customer:

“I wanted two new outlets installed. They returned my call promptly, and the electrician showed up on time. He was very careful about not making a mess. He wore shoe covers, had a small drop cloth to catch the dust and debris and even used a hand vacuum to clean up. When he left, I could not tell he had even been here. Also, the price was very fair.”

In order to make this happen, it takes more than just getting all involved aligned on the goal.

Two important things to develop are the process used to meet the customers’ requirements and how to measure its effectiveness in order to make continuous improvements.

For example, I know a handyman whose wife returns calls within one business hour.

The example process may have the assigned electrician call the customer to introduce himself, confirm the appointment and determine the exact work to be done so that the proper materials are available.

In this example, a structured follow-up phone call to each customer would be very productive.

Finding out what went well and what could have been done better is important. It provides feedback to all involved on their effectiveness in meeting the desired result.

There is a very relevant saying in business, “You get what you measure.”

Is it worth investing 15 minutes in a follow-up phone call? Yes, because it increases the probability of customer retention and referrals. Both are very valuable outcomes and worth the investment of time.

It is also important that every employee understands the core values of your business.

Core values are the guiding principles that guide the behavior and actions of organizations.

They are the practices used every day in everything that is done.

Ones to consider in this case are:

• We delight our customers
• We treat everyone (customers, suppliers and each other) with respect
• We are reliable
• We know and care about our customers.

Does this approach make sense? Yes. Do businesses do this? Rarely.

If a percentage of all companies never formally train employees in the simple art of customer retention, how many are using this approach?

Why don’t more business managers do this and other things of importance that are not urgent?

They are average and fall into the trap of focusing on urgent matters rather than important matters.

This concept is discussed in the Chamber’s Time Management: Strategic Concepts and Practical Time Savers Workshop.

As Dwight Eisenhower said, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”

Eisenhower’s Urgency-Importance Grid and how he utilized it is covered in the workshop.

Is determining how you want your customers to describe your business important?

It is in order to greatly outshine your competitors. Do it to grow your business and increase your profitability.

Factors that enhance employee satisfaction include satisfied customers and being a team member in a prosperous, growing business.

Don’t be average. Be exceptional! Get started now.

Take five minutes NOW and write down your first pass at how you want your customers to describe you.

Do it, and take an important step in improving the profitability of your business.

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The two-hour How to Delight Your Customers will start at noon Tuesday, July 26, at the Roane County Chamber of Commerce in Kingston. Call 376-5572 to register or for details. Lunch is included.
There is no charge for employees of Chamber members and $35 for others.
Is it work taking a long lunch to learn something that you can immediately use to improve your professional skills?
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Dana Peterka is a Roane County SCORE counselor and chairman-elect of the Roane County Chamber of Commerce. Email him questions about small business-related issues at Business owners can reach him through the Chamber of Commerce at 376-2093.

Key Topics

What’s the SCORE?: How do you want your customers to describe you?