Make sure whoever is selling your service understands the customer’s needs.
Many business owners, particularly those in startup mode, have limited resources. Thus, entrepreneurs must wear several hats at the same time. Take into consideration that your customers are highly likely multitaskers wearing many hats as well.
Let us say you are selling a building service, or solving a cleaning concern, it is important to ask yourself a question. Are you speaking to a customer that has expertise in building services or are they filling in the role as best they are able? In other words, this may be a new person assigned to take care of a building and this could be a new role for that customer. Knowing if the customer is experienced or asking questions because they are new to the role of building maintenance will help you to know nuances. That knowledge that can make all the difference for a customer to feel understood.
The same goes for your sales team. If you are working through understanding your customer needs, salespeople should view themselves as trusted advisors to the customers and work toward having a longstanding relationship that translates to understanding the customer’s whole business, not just their cleaning requirements. Leverage your relationships with customers whenever possible.
Recognize that it is never too early to incorporate customer feedback into your every effort.
When my co-founder and I started Executive Image Building Services, we were in the early stage of launching our company and many potential customers were right there with us to help one another. We were speaking with the end users of our service and at the same time we were trying to get our financial footing. Before we had even begun to send customer proposals, we were asking potential customers who would be using our services their opinions.
Your customers’ opinions are more important than your own when it comes to shaping the offerings of your service. Engage customers from day one and make their perspectives a part of the founding principles of your business.
Observe how customers engage with your service and then adapt your direction around what the customers believes will best solve their problems and learn what they care most about.
This kind of ground-floor assessment will not only ensure your business starts down the right path, but it will get you accustomed to absorbing that kind of valuable advice from your most important resource, your customers. This process that will serve you very well over time.
Use your customer base as an asset when hiring your team.
When you are training sales staff, who else can guide you better than the customers who you be will targeting? If you are looking for the best salesperson that will be charged with responsibility of attracting new customers for your business, investigate people who were selling to a similar target market in past positions. Those former customers are the first references you will call. Learn what these hiring prospects did right and what they did wrong, then decide if that salesperson will be a good fit for your organization. Your future customers will appreciate the early effort to consider their perspectives when they are dealing with your well-qualified sales staff in the future.
Understand there is no detail too small for your attention.
As a business owner, you will find yourself getting pulled in many different directions throughout the day, and there are certain areas in which it is crucial to delegate responsibility and tasks. However, establishing the proper company culture when it comes to customer experience is an initiative you can never afford to neglect or remind yourself.
I attended a customer meeting once and at the start of the meeting I noticed that rather than personally greeting our contact person, the sales staff slid the cards across a desk. This lack of direct contact gave the impression of a lack of personal touch. Details like this matter: they are an extension of your brand, and your brand’s reputation is what keeps customers happy and secure in their working relationship with your brand. Do not hesitate to point out when you see an employee actions take place that could impact your customers’ perception of your company and brand.
In addition, it is not uncommon for the business owner to get personally involved in a customer situation to ensure proper care, especially handling a concern. Your customers will remember this high touch level of service for years in the future.
Never skimp on training new team members.
Your front-line team members will only get one chance to make a first impression with a customer. If you let them begin a customer interaction unprepared, lacking the correct supplies or a clear understanding of the tasks to complete, you are doing your company a disservice. New employees should shadow existing employees for as long as it takes to be sure they are ready to properly represent your brand, your processes, and your values.
During a customer meeting the first sixty seconds of the meeting, customers will figure out if you are a credible business person. Put the time in from during an employee’s first days on the job to make sure he or she can navigate that initial introduction in a way that will only increase your customer’s confidence in your business and your service.
While you as the founder and leader will always control the direction of your business, it is critical to recognize from the start that you are only the conduit for the direction chosen by your target customers. The sooner you can prioritize your customer’s point of view and create services and experiences that meet their needs, the more successful you will become.
By Ray Jackson