“The purpose of business,” said the father of modern management theory, Peter F. Drucker, “is to create and keep a customer.” His line of reasoning is simple and elegant. Once a company has a customer, then everything flows from there.
There are two parts to this single line of management wisdom.
First, create a customer. This is all about marketing and sales. A customer is created by making them aware of how your company can help them.
Second, keep a customer. This is all about having the right systems in place to make a customer happy. This is not just customer service, but everyone who is directly connected to the customer in some way.
Fortunately, technology can help a small business owner with both aspects. Mobile field service software from Astea, an end-to-end service management software solution, is an example of how to link people and business processes to create and keep a customer. From the customer’s perspective, a company with proactive communication provides a seamless experience from sales to after-sales service. Fast response time goes a long way in creating customer satisfaction because it offers a personalized experience at every relationship touchpoint.
Many businesses mess up on creating and keeping customers.
Mistake #1: Not Willing to Pay the Price to Get a Customer
There is a price to be paid for getting a customer. It’s the price of customer acquisition, which is a dollar amount. This is the price of hiring a salesperson or to put out an advertisement. When looking for a customer, a company has to factor in how much they are willing to pay to “buy” each customer. What’s more, this price has to be paid up front, with no guarantee of success.
Another price that has to be paid is the price of creativity and effort. You have to create a realistic customer avatar and think about the many ways you can find your ideal customer.
When businesses fail to get new customers, it’s because they have not been willing to pay enough in dollar amount or creativity and effort.
The most basic way of getting customers is through advertising. You have to create a message that appeals to the needs of your target audience. You then have to put it in a place that they are most likely to read it.
Television will get the most attention, but it is also the most expensive. This is usually a medium preferred by established brands with deep pockets.
Radio is not dead; it’s still a popular option, and it’s possible to get inexpensive advertising by sponsoring weather forecasts or traffic reports or by getting a radio spot in the late hours of the night.
Newspapers and magazines used to be a good place to advertise, but unless the advertisement can be linked to a niche publication, chances of success are fairly low.
Perhaps the best and cheapest place is the Internet, using Google PPC, Facebook ads, or LinkedIn ads. However, you also have to develop a strong website, blog, and social media presence to get the most value for your money here. A considerable amount of expertise is needed to do this well, as there is a lot of competition on all major platforms to get customer attention.
Another option is trade shows, where you can meet hundreds of people and educate them about your business. This usually works best in a B2B business, where it’s possible to go to a trade show in your niche.
Besides advertising, it’s important to create business networks, where you can get leads, as well as find ways to create referral systems with businesses and customers.
Mistake #2: Not Willing to Learn How to Keep a Customer
A good customer has the power of making a positive referral. This is much more powerful than simply advertising or sending a persuasive sales person to close the deal. People trust their friends, and value their opinion over a great ad or an affable salesperson.
Customers love to talk about their great experiences. They also like to talk about their bad experiences. So, in order to keep a customer, you have to provide good experiences rather than bad ones. Although this is elementary logic, it is not practiced much in the real world.
Not only do crank customers not return, but they vent their frustration to everyone who will listen. Thousands of dollars of advertising dollars go up in smoke if there are enough cranky customers.
What makes a cranky customer?
It’s usually subtle things. It’s not overt rudeness, but a quiet indifference to what customer’s have to say about their problems with the product or service. Customer representatives often don’t listen to customer complaints, but rattle off the company policy. They don’t get to know their customers, make little or no effort to understand their frustrations, and provide a cookie-cutter solution to the problem–even when it doesn’t fit the situation.
Avoid these 2 Common Mistakes
Thinking about business processes without a customer is an abstraction. Unless there is a customer, the business is only a good idea waiting to happen. Only too often new businesses become so immersed in their business plan and their revolutionary new product that they miss the obvious—creating and keeping a customer.