Today there is a lot of focus on the customer experience. How do your customers feel about their experience with your product? Are they satisfied, confident, and pleasantly surprised? Or are they frustrated, confused, and disenchanted? What are the main elements that determine your customers’ experience? Consider the following three pillars of customer relationships:
- Dependable Access. Often overlooked, and taken for granted by many producers, is the simple fact that your product must be available in order for your customer to buy it. The #1 reason your customer buys is because your product is dependably in stock and available for purchase time after time. Even loyal customers will buy a competing brand that they see as “more dependable” when your brand is out of stock – and they’ll continue to do so even after yours is back! You have let them down. “It’s not my fault!” you may say. “We have plenty of product!” But it is your relationship with your retailer and distributer that allows the run-out to happen. People along the distribution chain on whom you depend to keep your product in stock must have a long standing relationship with your company, and like your representatives. What happens when you have turnover? Out-of-stocks!
- Brand Promise. Your loyal customers have expectations about your brand’s price, quality and performance. They determine your brand promise, not your marketing or production people. They expect a certain label, size, and packaging, and if you disappoint or confuse them, they will leave you for a competing brand. Contrary to popular belief, your customer doesn’t want to shop. Just the thought of having to “shop” for a new brand to satisfy a regular need causes them anxiety. If you had a better relationship with your customer, you might have realized they were in a comfortable habit before you said, “But it was time for a change! We’ve had the same logo for 10 years!” Check with your sales people before you make any changes to your package, positioning, pricing, or quality. They talk to your customers every day.
- Customer Service. Your customers have to feel confident and secure in their purchases. This means that they know from their own experience, the experience of others, and your general reputation, that you stand behind your products and services. But even more, they have to know that you will improve your marketing, products, services and packaging based on their suggestions. If they think you don’t care or won’t listen, they will go elsewhere and, worse, they will feel obligated to tell their friends. “But we do care about our customers!” you may say. “We’re happy to refund their money.” Only a loyal customer will take the time to complain, and they want to see an improvement rather than a refund. Understand that your customer care people are the recipients of this valuable feedback and they are much more than the “complaint resolution department.” They should relay this valuable input to your marketing and production people. Your company should realize that every complaint represents hundreds who quietly take their business elsewhere.
The customer experience is all about how they feel using your products and services. They want to feel confident and, yes, “loved” by the brand they love. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Protect all your long-term relationships at every level of the supply and distribution chain. Take responsibility for the behavior of outsourced suppliers and services. Elevate the status your sales and customer care people to keep your brand relevant, keep your customers loyal, and keep the warm feelings flowing!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at www.thebarefootspirit.com.
To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.