Monthly Archives: December 2012

All glitz and no substance

Last night we were watching Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Comedy Roadshow with Rhod Gilbert telling the story of his toothbrush. (It’s very funny and if you’ve never seen it you can watch it here. Whether it’s a toothbrush, socks or earmuffs, I’m sure we’ve all had similar disappointments; you receive the most amazing looking gift, beautifully wrapped, posh ribbon and fancy packaging. Then you reveal the contents…. And it’s a real let down. It’s all glitz and no substance.

So why would I be talking about disappointing gifts?

Do we ever leave our customers with the same let down experience?

What promises might we make either intentionally or unintentionally, on which we then fail to deliver.

We’ve had that experience just this week. We came home on Tuesday night to find a card saying “we tried to deliver your parcel, but you were out.”  (I’m sure with today’s technology it shouldn’t be too difficult to keep the customer informed, and in this case notify expected delivery date, but maybe that’s an article for another day…) To cut a long and very frustrating story short despite rearranging the delivery for Wednesday, the parcel still hasn’t arrived. Needless to say our expectations have been far from met and that courier company certainly won’t be getting any recommendations from us.  Yes, I appreciate it’s Christmas and it’s a busy period, but please don’t make promises that you then can’t deliver. Not a good recipe for customer loyalty.

It’s easy when you’re busy to let things slip, but this should be the very time to wow your customers So here are my top 10 things you might want to check so you feel confident you’ll never be falling short with your customers, so they remain naturally loyal to you and your business.

  1. Is everything you display on your website and in your marketing representative of what people get when they arrive. Not only your offers and prices, but are your photographs representative, is everything available as implied or, are directions accurate, etc. Yes, I get that you need to make your offers enticing, but they certainly shouldn’t be misleading if you don’t want to lose your customers’ trust.
  2. Is it made clear at the time of enquiry or booking if anything won’t be available on the day or time in question? There may be times when you’re hosting big events that are bound to have a knock-on effect on other customers. Be upfront about these and the impact it might have to avoid disappointment.
  3. Are customers forewarned of any potential problems? For example peak periods when there might be a need to wait. Or when the only option you can offer your customer is not what they would normally book. OK, they may not decide to book as a result, but better that and they come back another day, than they come to you, have a disappointing experience, and never return.
  4. Does the customer’s first impression live up to what’s in store? Disappointment at this stage can have a knock-on effect on the whole experience, leaving your customer nit picking by looking for every opportunity to support their initial assessment.
  5. Will the last customers of the day get the same choices and level of service is the first customers of the day. Your team might be tired and want to go home, but is that really your customer’s problem? Having systems in place and training your team will help you maintain consistency.
  6. Can your regular customers be reassured that there will always get the same level of service, irrespective of the time of day, week or year. Or better still, aim to raise the level of service even if just by 1% on each and every visit, so there’s always something new and you’re never seen to be complacent.
  7. Do you do anything to add value and wow your customer? What are the additional little touches that you can add with minimal effort or at little cost and to you, but are appreciated your customers that will give them the perception of you going the extra mile.  Lots of little thoughtful touches throughout the customer journey all add up to a great experience.
  8. Is the level of service and attention to detail in line with your offer/product(s). You can have the most amazing product in the world, but unless its delivery matches up to this it will fail to impress.
  9. If and when things go wrong (and even in the most well oiled business mishaps still happen) be bold enough to admit your mistakes, apologise, rectify and move on. How you recover the situation will be what the customer remembers.
  10. Don’t leave that last impression to chance; make sure everything delivers right to the very end and follow-up with your customers after their visit to show your appreciation of their custom.

So remember, you’re only as good as your customer’s last experience so make sure it’s a good one, even when you are busy.

Whatever you promise you need to be able to deliver, and better still, deliver +1%. Every time!

You’ll not only keep your customers happy and get fewer complaints, but make it easier on your team, they’ll give better service and you set the stage for repeat business and a naturally loyal customer.


I saw this and thought of you

Don’t you just love it when you open up a gift, and it’s perfect for you?

Whether for Christmas, birthday or simply because someone says ”I saw this and thought of you, and I knew I just had to get it for you!” It feels really good that somebody’s gone to the trouble of finding something that they knew that you’d love.

You’re perhaps surprised that they paid attention to something you’ve mentioned in passing or you feel humbled that they’ve gone to so much trouble to find the exact match of something you’ve always wanted, or feel touched that they know you so well that they’ve managed to find a gift that you didn’t even know you needed!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could get our customers to feel that way about what we give them?

When you’re choosing gifts for others are you the type of person who spots something earlier in the year and thinks “Oh, that would be perfect for ___”  and buys it there and then, (and probably by now has everything wrapped and ready), or do you tend to leave everything to the last minute?

Whichever category you are in the chances are you have that person in mind when you buy their present in the hope you’ll get some of the emotions described above..

You’ll perhaps imagine their reaction to your gift, is it something that they’ll like, or picture them using it or wearing it depending on what it is. You might also think about what it says about your relationship; is it too extravagant, is it too small, will it offend in anyway, is it sending the wrong message?

This might not be conscious considerations but the chances are some of these will cross our minds whilst making a choice.

The same principles should apply when making decisions about what we offer our customers.

Twice in the last week I’ve been having discussions with clients about their target market and how important it is to be absolutely crystal clear on who their offer is intended for, in exactly the same way as we would determine who we’re buying a gift for.

If we don’t have a particular type of customer in mind it’s nigh on impossible to really meet anyone’s expectations.

It’s too tempting to try to appeal to everyone and end up pleasing no one. It doesn’t mean to say that you won’t have a range of different types of customers, but it does mean you might have different offers, different messages and use different media for each of those target markets. Just as you would give different presents for each of your friends or family.

So let’s look at a couple of examples. 

Let’s say for example you are a visitor attraction.

You might have some activities which are geared towards the family market, whilst having others that are more suited to testosterone filled adrenaline junkies. So the chances are these will be very different and very distinct activities for your two different markets. Therefore initially the way in which you describe those two contrasting activities would be very different, and the messages that you want to convey will also be totally different.

Whereas the family you may want to emphasise safety, doing things together, education or creativity, for the grown-up fun you want to stress the challenge, excitement, competitiveness, thrill, and so on. The chances are that your audience are going to be ‘hanging out’ in totally different places as well, so the medium you use to get your message out to them will be quite different.

The same might apply for a therapist or salon.

This time the treatments you offer might be very similar, but the packages and the way you structure these might be quite different for, let’s say, a pamper party, with the emphasis on fun and indulgence, compared to an in company de-stress day where the focus might be more on employee benefits or reducing absenteeism.

Let’s look at the example of a hotel where this time you might have the same guest, but they may stay in your hotel in very different circumstances.

On the one hand a guess might be booking with you for company business where the emphasis might be an away-day to focus to work on a key project, or to entertain a key client. Compare this to the same guest staying or dining with you for leisure with family and friends, where their expectations and requirements are more likely to be geared towards relaxation are getting away from the pressures of work. So quite, quite different.

So each of these situations, just like choosing a gift, by having a very clear picture of your target market in mind helps you create the right offer, the right message to attract your customer’s attention, and enables you to decide on the right medium to get your message in front of your customer.

And in the same way it’s really hard to choose a gift for somebody that we don’t know really well, it’s really hard to get the right offer and the right message and the right medium if we don’t know our customers.

So be as specific as possible and go into as much detail as possible about each of your customers and have them absolutely forefront of your mind in any of your marketing communications.