Cherish Your Customers September 2008

Last month, I urged you to avoid being a "straw" for your customer's experience. I pointed out that it often takes several events before customers switch to other companies. Have you looked at the things you can handle better in order to build a successful relationship with your customers?
Back to School
If you don't have school-aged children, you may need the reminder that school is back in session so you'll slow down in those school zones. Remember that to be competitive in today's world, education is a lifelong process. Do you have plans for your own education this fall?

Point of View
"If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view and see things from that person's angle as well as from your own." --Henry Ford

I have mentioned in previous columns how important it is to know your customer. The most common mistake that I see businesses, especially small businesses, make is to not consider the sales and service experience from the customer's point of view. It shows in the marketing message that lists the features of a particular product or service, but not the benefits to the customer. It shows in the absence of service after the sale. I recently encountered an example of a sales pitch that completely missed its target.

As most of you know, my primary business is soft skills training. I provide entertaining and customized low- cost solutions to businesses and organizations that need training for their employees - on customer service, communication, team building, business writing, and other topics. In an effort to know what the competition is doing and also to find places where I can get additional training, I have signed up for newsletters from training organizations. I have been receiving email updates from one particular large training company for a couple of months now. The newsletters have been primarily pitches to attend their training sessions, but each one includes a helpful piece of information from the sessions.

Missing the opportunity
Last week, I received a phone call from the person who is responsible for the local branch of this organization. He identified himself and asked for me. I thanked him for the newsletters. He asked if they had been helpful and I said they had. Then he asked, "Would you be interested in attending one of our training sessions?" I told him I would, but that their training was out of my ballpark financially. He asked what I would hope to get out of a session if I were able to attend. I was honest with him. "I would be attending to learn information to use in my own sessions." He seemed confused by this answer. I suddenly realized that he had no idea what I did for a living. He did not know that I owned my own business, training or otherwise.

He hadn't done his homework. The company's newsletter has been coming to and it doesn't take much to substitute the crystal@ with www to learn what type of business I am in. Even if he didn't want to take the time to visit my website, the first question could have been "What type of business are you in?" He then could have pitched his sale to my interests. It's one thing to send out generic marketing materials, but if you are going to go to the trouble of making a personal sales call, doesn't it make sense to take a bit more time to check the person's web address (if it isn't a general account like Yahoo, AOL, or Gmail)?

Research pays off
Imagine how much more targeted that sales call could have been if there had been some effort put into knowing what my interest would be. He could have started by saying, "You do training as well, don't you?" I would have immediately been more receptive to his information. He could have quickly adjusted his pitch to make it match my interests.

If you find that you aren't landing the sale after making the call or your customers don't return after the first sale, the reason may be that you are missing your target. Try to walk through the customer's experience from start to finish. What does the customer encounter? What can you do to make that a better and more productive experience for your customer?

Keep the customer's point of view in mind and you'll bring that customer back for more.

puzzle light
There were tons of you who knew that August 27th was Lyndon B. Johnson's birthday. The first two responses came at exactly the same time. These were Jeanette Honermann, in Economic Development at CPS Energy, and Linda Draper at Bexar County Information Systems. These two will each receive a $25 gift certificate from Nicavid's.

This month, since we are in the middle of political convention season, another trivia question. Who were the oldest and youngest nominees for President? (For the purposes of this question, let's stick to the two major parties and omit re-election campaigns.) The first person to send in the correct answer will win $25 of deliciousness at Nicavid's.

presenting 3
Crystallizations Training
Do you freak out every time someone asks you to speak in front of a group of people? Do you find it difficult to engage an audience? Do you need guidance on making PowerPoint work for you?

My next open to the public session, Presenting without Panicking is on Thursday, September 11, from 10:00 AM to 11:30. Learn how to come across as a professional when you speak to a group..

Just $30 gets you a seat and handouts. (Group discounts are available.) You can send the check to Crystal Communications at the address below or call to arrange credit card payment through PayPal. Space is limited so RSVP now . Please share with anyone you know who may be interested. I hope to see you next week!

SMWBVO conference
Volunteer at the Biggest Small Business Event
The 8th Annual Small, Minority,Women and Veteran Business Owners Conference will be held Wednesday, December 10. As always, I need volunteers.

The exciting news is that this year, we have a new location - the Freeman Coliseum, 3201 E. Houston St. - which means that parking is free for volunteers and attendees. No more shuttle buses, no more downtown double digit parking prices! The Coliseum floor will be covered with government agencies and corporations who want to buy your product or service.

If you want to help with registration, crowd control, or directions, please contact me. I'll provide more details as we get closer to the event. This is a great opportunity to bring your whole team to join this amazing small business event.

Upcoming Events
Greater Chamber Roundtable - I'm MC Tue, 9/4, 7 AM More info...
Presenting without Panicking Thu, 9/11, 10 AM More info...
State of Texas Economy Thu, 9/25, 11:30 AM More info...
Greater Chamber Roundtable - I'm MC Thu, 10/2, 7 AM More info...
Coffee with Richard Perez Fri, 10/3, 7 AM More info...
Health Care Summit Tue, 10/14, 7 AM More info...
Making Connections Thu, 10/16, 10 AM More info...
Unlocking Your Creativity Thu, 11/13, 10 AM More info...
8th Annual Small Business Conference Wed, 12/10, 7 AM More info...
Consider the Customer's Point of View
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Crystal Communications
Crystal Darby
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