As a business coach who wears many entrepreneurial hats, I am passionate about buying experiences — primarily through the eyes of a customer. I spend a lot of time coaching others that consumers are not just interested in a good deal, a fair price, a discount. Of course price is taken into consideration, but wouldn’t you agree that people also buy because:
- they have a need
- it’s convenient
- they are emotionally attached
- there is perceived value
- they appreciate expert advice (product knowledge)
- they believe in the person helping them
- they have confidence in the brand (dare I say loyalty!)
- they trust, like, and are familiar (thank-you Dale Carnegie),
- they want a ongoing relationship
I had the pleasure of speaking at a major travel technology expo this spring, and sharing the stage with a longstanding director of the company. Sharon, my friend and colleague, is very successful in the sales field, and on stage presenting about how she shares her customers’ experiences with her audience. In this instance, Sharon complimented my branding workshop by talking about how to create an emotional footprint in business.
She told everyone a great story about how travel suppliers send proactive emails to their guests prepping them for their dream vacation experience (restaurant reservations, activities, and entertainment options).
I loved to hear how these suppliers are beginning the vacation experience early. They were building anticipation and developing expectation before the vacation even started. The tactics were appealing to me as an entrepreneurial business coach for several reasons:
- Creating a personal customer experience from the beginning of a transaction is key
- Building a relationship is important for the long term
- Communicating a mindset to take care of the customer needs is a terrific proactive step
The story left an impact with me and others and got everyone thinking about HOW we can also create such personal experiences before, during, and after a sale… WITH Sharon’s product! It was fantastic how we were all drawn in by her emotional story, trusted her opinion, credibility, integrity, and honesty. She was genuine about it and obviously credible in helping us create our own customer experiences just like the big guys!
Several ideas emerged as a result:
Create extensive (CRM) customer relationship personas.
Go deeper into your CRM and add more extensive information based on customer surveys, interviews, and comments made during the buying experience.
Anticipate future buying decisions.
Do this by asking thoughtful, candid questions throughout your relationship. Document the idea to then follow up on it when the opportunity exists.
Personalize everything you do.
Enhance emails and batched e-reminders by picking-up the phone occasionally. E-birthday, e-anniversary, and e-welcome home or congratulatory emails are standard customer service. Write an occasional handwritten personal message on a company-branded postcard and watch the customer experience transcend!
It is evident today that small business can compete, more than ever, with emerging cloud-based CRM and a plan to create a customer experience that people are willing to pay for. The customer’s experience starts and ends with our own accountability over the process. Use your personal touch to make that experience transcendent!
Photo credit: Donnie Nunley