Robb Hicken: Get the right customers, keep them satisfied

ROBB HICKEN, chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionNovember 19, 2013 

Robb Hicken

When most people think of a mattress, they see a rectangular piece of cloth, metal and padding — something to sleep on at night.

When Tracy McFarlin, of Mattress Land – Sleep Fit Center in Nampa, talks about mattresses, he talks about customer satisfaction and brand conversion.

“There are a lot of different considerations that go into the selection process,” he says. “Each person has to find their right comfort zone before they can get to sleep.”

The same comfort zone applies to a satisfied customer. The entire sale is built on relationships.

Buyers trust sales people. It takes only minutes to create a satisfied customer or a dissatisfied customer.

When you provide customers with enough information, they’re more likely to be informed buyers and informed, satisfied customers. If a customer leaves dissatisfied, he’ll tell more people than if he’s satisfied.

“I’m going to be calling you in 60 days to see how well you like your mattress,” McFarlin says. “It’s not that I want to sell you anything, but I want to see that you’re satisfied with what you’ve bought.”

Making a satisfied customer builds an advocate for your business, according to Jill Rowley, an employee of Oracle, the business-software company, in an article reprinted on Forbes’ website. “So when a sales person initiates a relationship with a potential buyer, they need to replace the term ‘prospect’ with the term ‘future advocate.’”

Converting customers to advocates increases the size of your sales team through “proxy.” Those customers will contribute their positive experiences — both products and sales clerk — to others in a trusted voice. They will vouch for you as a trustworthy brand.

Encourage customers to share their experiences by word of mouth, on your website and through their social networks. “Share the unedited voices and personalities of your employees,” Rowley writes. “Asking your partners to get involved in the conversation as well can be mutually beneficial.”

This conversion process requires the customer to become loyal to your brand.

The Better Business Bureau hears concerns all the time about money and marketing. Everyone wants to grow his or her business, but not many business owners have unlimited resources to use for marketing. Learn this new catch phrase — Get, Keep, Grow — and apply the concepts outlined by Elaine Ralls of Air Integrated:

• “Get” is acquisition. The goal is to acquire the best new customers — not any customers, but those who will be high value and show loyalty.

• “Keep” is about loyalty. How often do your existing customers come back? Why? What brings them back?

• “Grow” is cross-selling and upselling. What do you offer or could offer that core customers are not taking advantage of but need? How do you tell them about it?

Implementing a strategy in each of the above areas is a great start.

In addition, you can become the expert, go-to source for your industry. Learn and study the profile of your customers and create a social presence with meaningful communication.

As McFarlin outlined, creating a brand believer or a nonbeliever may take only minutes.

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rhicken@boise.bbb.org, 947-2115

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