Joe and Roy, SCORE volunteers and former successful business owners I have featured numerous times in these articles, started talking about our clients at Treasure Valley SCORE. The question: "What's most important to customers?" It didn't take long for the three of us to agree on quality, service and price - in that order.
Several more items surfaced as Joe and Roy started giving examples of what they experienced running their respective businesses. These items were a bit subtler and perhaps overlooked by many business owners.
Here's a summary of the items we thought could add another dimension to the "quest for success."
Perception of an ethical organization
No exaggeration of deliverables, no slamming the competition, abiding by the quote, taking responsibility for glitches and providing no-question responsibility and correction - all fall under ethical behavior. If there is a better solution for the customer, do you provide a referral?
Respect for the customer
Show respect by addressing the client by name, keeping an upbeat and positive attitude with personal problems left at home, asking the customer if he/she was satisfied and topping off with a sincere "thank you."
As appropriate to the product and/or service provided, a follow-up call helps ensure the customer is satisfied. We're seeing that much more frequently from auto dealerships and home-repair service providers.
Does the owner make himself or herself visible and available to the customer? We're impressed when the restaurant owner and/or chef touches base with the patrons.
Is your organization or business visible in the community? Folks like to do business when the company and its employees are supportive and involved. A demonstration of community involvement promotes reciprocity by the customers in the community.
When you promise delivery for the next day or promise to show up at 8 a.m., make sure you do it.
Are you current with new products? Do you have all the current service bulletins?
Have you explained to your employees the importance of their role in the company? Make sure they are committed to the success of the company and act accordingly.
As Joe, Roy and I concluded, there's no question that quality, service and price are critical to sustaining your business.
But also give some thought to the above items. Implementing one or more may lead to enhanced customer loyalty and additional business.