As you are busy networking – trying to build your business – keep the following article, by Abigail Dougherty, in mind.
The Bottom Line
Every business owner I know has a keen sense of their business bottom line. Is the business profitable, or not? If not, most owners have ideas to improve the business’s bottom line in the future.
As you are busy networking – trying to build your business – keep the following article, by Abigail Dougherty in mind.
The Front Line
The front line is seldom as keenly managed. Most businesses define “front line” too narrowly as the first point of human contact. Front line actually includes every contact point a customer has with the business; from the moment the phones are answered, live or mechanically, all the way through the transaction, including service long after the original transaction is completed.
We recently dealt with two front line employees in a local store with markedly different results. One took the stance that our issue was outside the policy. He could not help us and we could take our business (and 13 years of customer loyalty) elsewhere. The second person explained why we were told “no,” then took the time to negotiate a win-win solution. The second person generated a huge sale and kept loyal customers happy. Sadly, the first person was the store manager. The helpful employee was a subordinate who took the initiative to seek a solution outside the policy to resolve the issue.
Tools for the Front Line
The best way to lose customers is to have rigid customer support policies that allow no initiative from your employees. Unless you have a truly unique product or service, it’s imperative that your customers believe they are being treated as individuals and someone is ready to listen and help them.
New hires do not belong in a front line role. They need to be shown, as well as trained, on the broad view and the details of who, what, why, how, and when of your products, services, your ideal clients, and your competition.
Experienced employees need to be armed with options and examples of prior customer solutions. It’s worth the time to send regular “win” messages to your entire team spotlighting challenging customer issues and the creative solutions to resolve them.
Make it a team effort. Use your collective resources, solicit, and then reward contributions for customer satisfaction from your entire team. You will probably be surprised how creative your staff is, when given the opportunity to contribute.
The Front Line Drives the Bottom Line
More than 70% of all buying decisions are driven by referral marketing, or word of mouth. Happy customers are your best sales staff. Happy employees who understand, believe, and can share success stories about your business are essential to creating happy customers.
Years ago I was the “right-hand assistant” for a funeral director/mortician. My job definition was one line: Help him do his work. One of my regular tasks was to write up, proof, and print the memorial cards for each visitation and funeral. It was better to have extras left over than to run out. I soon learned that most people have a circle of about 250 others who know and or care about them. We printed 250 memorial cards for most services and usually had only a few left over. This was pre-social media; today 6,000 appears to be the accepted reach for our circle of influence.
It’s human nature to share bad news more readily than good news. A happy customer will tell several friends, especially soon after they’ve done business with you. An unhappy customer tells everyone they speak to about their experience and will remember the story for years to come when your business name comes up, or even when the discussion turns to the same industry. Unhappy customers never forget and seldom forgive.
We are blessed with two eyes. As business people that means we keep one on the front line and the other on the bottom line.
© 2009 Straight Edge News All Rights Reserved.