Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Get Engaged!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 8:09 AM
You read that right, Get Engaged! Why would we be telling you on a business blog to get engaged? Because if you want to grow your business and outperform everyone else than you must “engage” your customers – get it?

Don’t take this lightly as your very survival depends on it. Most businesses never engage their customers and think they are doing the customer a favor – how crazy is that?! Is it any wonder the Harvard Business Review wrote that half of all U.S. corporations lose 50% of their customers every 5 years – 50%!

Sometimes when you hear about how bad a company is doing it’s not because of the economy or some other reason. Many times it’s because the leaders of the company have a mindset that their customers won’t leave or they believe they own their space or that after so many years their customers would never leave. What arrogance this is!

If you really want to outshine your competition, increase your customer base and make a ton more money, engage your customers! Right about now you may be asking how? Let’s go through a few examples:

Some time ago a friend of mine owned a restaurant and they were doing pretty well but they could do better. He wanted to know what he could do to grow but also, when they were very busy and there was a line waiting to get in, how to keep them happy.

On our team is an expert in the restaurant business and she shared with him to take some of the items on his menu and some new ones he wanted to try and make some to give away. Cut them into tiny portions and put them on toothpicks. Have their friendliest waiter/waitress go down the line and give them away and ask the customers to give her their feedback. In turn they could get a free drink with their meal.

What a brilliant idea! Engage your customers at their most difficult moment – they are hungry and tired of waiting. It would take their mind off of their wait and hunger and he would get valuable feedback, again brilliant.

Guess what? He wouldn't do it! He was afraid to take a chance on new items, afraid they would give the server a hard time, afraid, afraid, afraid. Can you imagine the goodwill he would have received, the loyalty, the great interaction, the great engagement, it would have been epic!

It “would have been” is the key phrase here. You see he refused to engage with his customers and after enough time of this the restaurant closed down, gone and out of business. What was a huge success came crashing down because of a lack of engagement. Don’t let this happen to you.

On the exact opposite of this is a tech company we worked with but the owner had the same mentality. Don’t ask how things are, don’t engage and all will be ok. In other words, hide your head in the sand and it will all go well. Just so you know, this never works!

We went to all of the customers, past and present and engaged them in what was working, what wasn’t, why they left and so on. Once we were able to ascertain what was really going on we went into action.

Let me change directions right here for a second. Having the information is good but it is only part of the equation. You must plan accordingly and then act on what you now know. You must act in the best interest of your customers, prospects, past customers, etc.

Back to our plan. We took the information that we gathered and created a plan that would allow us to not only fix the problems, but we rewarded those that gave us honest feedback. Some was in the form of discounts, others were able to return old product they couldn't use. Others it was testing new products, bundling others and on and on the list was going.

Now that we fully engaged our customers and prospects guess what. Most of the old, past customers came back, the new ones increased their buying and we picked up new customers that we never knew about because of the great buzz generated by our gestures.

Bottom line: Engage your customers, admit when you messed up, fix it beyond what they would have ever expected, offer what you can and then deliver like no one else on the planet!

Engage, engage, engage with your customers, prospects, whether they are past, present, or future and watch your business soar!

Until our next post – we wish you all success!
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