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What message do you send to customers when you tell them up front that their feedback will not get a response?

How many businesses have you stopped communicating with because they don’t listen and reply? Does anyone feel that way about your business? About you?

If you have to do less communicating in order to do so in a way that creates better client relationships, give it a try.

As for the graphic – If you don’t have time to reply, do you have time to read their feedback? Maybe, but that’s not the worst of it. If you aren’t listening and people know it, they won’t share anything with you.

It isn’t the customer who won’t receive a reply… It’s you.

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Advertising Business culture Business model Customer relationships customer retention Direct Marketing Getting new customers Lead generation Marketing Positioning Recurring Revenue Sales Small Business Strategy systems

They really aren’t very good at marketing

NotVeryGoodAtMarketing

One of the most common marketing mistakes I see is focusing solely on new clients and doing so in a way that annoys everyone else who has (or had) a relationship with your business.

This quote from Facebook (above) about a New England newspaper’s Groupon deal is but one example.

The process

The process goes something like this:

There’s a discussion in the marketing team and/or with the senior management team (which may simply be you and you) that includes something like this:

We’re not getting enough new customers.

Well, let’s create a deal just for new customers and see if we can get some.

Of course, this means that existing customers can’t take advantage of the deal, and nor can any former customers.

For your existing customers, it’s annoying to know that there is a better deal for what you bought, but it isn’t available to you. To be sure, there might be other parts of the deal (free or discounted this or that to start), but the recurring part of the bill is still more than likely unobtainable for your current customers.

This makes them angry. Ditto for former customers who are thinking of returning.

Meanwhile back at the internet

Most businesses want as many customers as possible. Newspapers fall into that category, but this problem is far from limited to them. I’ve seen it from cable / internet /phone providers and many other businesses that sell products or services via subscription – and even some who don’t.

Innocent enough, but unless you have figured out a way to hide all of your marketing from former or current customers, you’re ignoring human nature. Your ability to “hide” your marketing is an illusion. People talk and they look on the internet. Your marketing is extremely difficult to hide. Even so, that’s very much the wrong problem to solve.

Here’s a secret – get them, keep them happy and keep delivering more value so they buy more. Add upper tier services so you can afford to deliver more value to those who want it.  Coupons come right off the top of your profit – that’s why you don’t want your existing customers to use them.

Meet your customers where they are

Every few years, I would call a local daily newspaper and ask if I could get a Sunday-only subscription.

Every few years, they would tell me that they “can’t do that”. This has happened in more than one place with more than one paper.

Tossing a Sunday paper in my driveway costs them almost nothing. There are almost certainly other subscribers on my road, so the paper delivery driver already goes by my house on Sunday. The incremental cost of that paper and its delivery is pretty close to zero.

Yet – they won’t sell me a Sunday only subscription.

Maybe it’s because…

  • Their billing systems can’t handle it – but I doubt it.
  • The system that bundles papers for the carrier every day can’t handle it – but I doubt it.
  • Their carrier isn’t intelligent or caring enough to make sure that I get a Sunday paper but no other papers – but I doubt it.

I think it’s a management and/or marketing choice that ignores Sales 101.

Sales 101

Sales 101 is “The reason to make a sale is to get a customer, not the other way around.”

This applies to all businesses, not just the ones we’re discussing today.

If this New England paper’s people are in the right frame of mind, they’re thinking “If we can get people to subscribe on Sunday, then they’ll see that our paper is so awesome that they will want a daily subscription – or at least, they will want the digital edition every day and the paper version on Sundays.

I suspect this isn’t what they’re thinking, but instead it’s something like “People only want the Sunday paper, so let’s make them buy it seven days a week to get what they really want.

To be sure – the latter is a legitimate concern about customer mindset, but it can be made irrelevant. Thinking further, why do they want only the Sunday paper? Is it there a way to deliver the desired content daily or at least, more often? Is it about the delivery mechanism? Would a digital subscription that included the Sunday paper in the driveway boost sales?

Are you asking these kinds of questions of YOUR business?

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Business Resources Competition Entrepreneurs Marketing Positioning Small Business Strategy The Slight Edge Word of mouth marketing

Everyone is someone’s hero

superhero wannabe

What if you could leap tall buildings, throw balls of fire or swing from webbing that shoots out of your wrist?

If you could, lots of people would think you were some sort of superhero. Thing is, a fair number of people probably feel that way already.

Maybe you can’t do any of those things, but I’ll bet you have this thing you do that’s amazing to people who know what you do.

Sadly, many of us take that special skill for granted. It doesn’t seem like something anyone would want because it’s easy for us. Yet for others who lack that skill or finesse at that task, it’s your superpower.

It’s the thing they wish you would do for them.

Why do we take it for granted?

We tend to take our superpower(s) for granted because we enjoy that particular work, it comes easy for us, it’s a natural talent that we appreciate, and/or because we like the benefits it provides, whether those benefits are direct and immediate or not. To us, it’s something that just happens.

When this work has to be done, we simply deal with it in that Mr. Miyagi-esque wax-on, wax-off way that others might see as magical. Even if it doesn’t look like magic to others, it almost certainly is something they want for their life or business.

For example, my most frequently used superpower is the ability to deliver clarity. I usually do this in the face of a substantial amount of uncertainty, noise and BS. I developed a knack for helping people discard all the trash and focus on what matters most or what’s ultimately causal in a situation and help someone move forward – and I do so without making them feel stupid.

The funny thing about this ability is that it took several people telling me that this was my “superpower” for me to really “get” it.

The point of this discussion is that your superpower might also be something you don’t recognize or don’t see as a superpower. Ask a few people you’ve worked with what they value most about what you do for them. You might get some surprising answers about things you aren’t really selling right now. Speaking of selling, don’t be surprised to find that these things are difficult to sell without some serious re-adjustment to your marketing/positioning.

For example: Welcome to Rescue Marketing, would you like to buy a box of Clarity? “Sorry, just looking.”

Watch out for Kryptonite

Remember Superman’s allergy to Kryptonite? The funny thing about superpowers is that they sometimes have the oddest weaknesses or exceptions.

You can’t get too cocky about them or you end up in the clinches of your business’ version of Lex Luthor. For mere mortals like you and I, this can manifest itself through a superpower that you can only use on others. While I can help someone else’s business with clarity with what seems like ease (sometimes it is, sometimes not), applying it to my own projects can be incredibly difficult. I often need an outside view – the same sort of thing I’m used to providing to others. Ironic perhaps, but we have to be very careful not to create a little world where everyone agrees with us, because that world doesn’t buy too much.

Hello trees, where’s the forest?

Outside views are valuable because we tend to be too close to our own projects. We fall madly in love with them, which keeps us from seeing their flaws, or that they make no sense at all.

Think back over your business life for a moment. Have you ever created a product or service that just fell flat in the marketplace, even though you felt it was incredibly useful? We forget to get real about customer development and do the hard work of talking with potential customers, showing them working prototypes, talking with them repeatedly rather than spending two years building our Taj Mahal, only to find that no one thinks they need it. Your superpower must be marketed with care.

What’s your superpower?

What’s yours? Does anyone know about it? Is it at the core of the stuff you do for others? How do you package it?

Some people keep their superpower to themselves. Almost seems a shame not to share it with the world.

I’d like to hear about yours.

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Business culture Business model Customer relationships Improvement Leadership Marketing Positioning Setting Expectations Small Business strategic planning

Creating client loyalty = dependability

What’s the easiest way of creating client loyalty?

The “easiest” way will differ by business. The key is to keep using it once you determine what’s easiest for yours.

I can’t promise that one way is easier than others but one of the ways I’ve found is to be the business your clients depend on to the point of rabid dependence.

I don’t mean that the relationship should be unhealthy, or that you should depend only on that client’s business. What I mean is that their dependency on *you* should be as strong as you can make it for as many top tier clients you can handle.

This will require systems because delivering this level of service manually rarely scales well much less remains consistent across employee changes, vacations and family crises (etc).

Isn’t that dependency up to them?

No, not if you’re paying attention.

The level of dependency is up to you because you’re the one who makes decisions about how you serve them. They might decide WHAT, but you decide the HOW. Only you can make the strategic decision to deliver more than they expected and do so with an owner’s mindset.

That owner’s mindset is critical: “We did this because if I was you, I’d want to watch out for this situation.”

It’s tough to quantify for you how much value this can create in the relationship with your clients, so I’ll say “a lot”.

You might be thinking that you can’t do this because your car wash business isn’t like my business, but this doesn’t matter. You could hand dry the cars after they pull out of the wash, even though that isn’t what your clients are paying for. Incremental cost – almost nothing. Value delivered – plenty.

Anyone can apply this mindset.

Ask them

Have you asked your customers if they depend on you? Ask.

You want to know what they depend on you for, and when you last disappointed them. Ask them how they depend on you and if there are things that they wish they could depend on you for. If they’re a good match, that’s new business on a silver platter.

Ultimately, you want them to know, not just think, that your business has their back. Consider the vendors you use that are so dependable, you don’t feel the need to check up on them.

Do you even have any that good? Is this a choice (perhaps due to your selection of service level\pricing) or is it because no one offers as much as you’d like to get? Have those vendors asked you if you could depend on them more?

Have you asked your clients that question?

I can’t afford to be that dependable

Maybe you’re thinking that you can’t afford to provide dependency-class service to your clientele. While you probably can’t provide it to everyone at your current price structure, there’s always going to be a group who needs more and will invest in better products and services. All they need to know is better offers exist.

What would you have to deliver to make it perfectly reasonable to add a zero to the price you get for your product or service? Add a zero = 10x. Since I suspect most aren’t going to easily see a 10X change, let’s start smaller.

What could you do to double the perceived value of the products and services you provide for the clients that you most want to depend on you?

For example, if you’re an attorney who charges $3000 for a document, you might be struggling with the idea that you could charge $6,000 much less $30,000 for it. Key: Start by changing the perception that the price is for a piece of paper.

Perception of value matters

Perception of value includes service level.

For example, if I buy a car and it breaks down, what happens when I call the dealer for help? Whether they act as my personal car genie or blow me off doesn’t change the value of the car (or does it?), but it certainly affects the perceived value of my purchase.

Over the long term your rewards are always proportionate to the value you provide. Premium pricing for the clients who need / want dependency provides you with the margin necessary to provide extraordinary value, while providing leeway to guide lower-tier clients up the ladder.

How are you creating client loyalty?

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Advertising Creativity Customer relationships Direct Marketing Getting new customers Internet marketing Lead generation Positioning Small Business

Sarcasm, humor and a great dog: Do they sell anything?

While I have and will continue to remind you about the need for ads that don’t actually help move a prospect (or existing customer) closer to buying (or buying again), this one is hits home on many levels with Guinness’ customers.

It makes fun of typical male weaknesses, while making us love the working dog.

Does it sell more Guinness? Tough to say.

It could be tracked by doing something like asking customers to refer to the ad in some way when they visit their favorite pub or beer store, perhaps in exchange for who-knows-what.

Does it matter? Or is the entertainment and “brand-on-your-mind one more time” enough?

As a small business owner, you need to know before you spend the money.

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Business culture Buy Local coffee Customer relationships Direct Marketing Entrepreneurs Influence Leadership Marketing Positioning Restaurants Small Business startups Word of mouth marketing

How do you know which customers want to be an insider?

Coffee Cupping

This past weekend, I checked off two to-do- list items with one visit to @OnyxCoffeeLab.

First, I was looking for a good locally-owned place to sit, sip and write. A coffee shop.

Second, I was meeting with the founder of a @StartupWeekend-born startup to discuss how it would go forward.

It started off nicely enough with a chat with the baristas about the Northwest (one of them was from Pullman, WA), including some agreement that NWA’s current 18% gray winter sky is right out of a classic Northwest winter.

After some solo writing time, my meeting guy arrived. As we finished our discussion, a group of people entered together, filling the table’s remaining 10 seats. Soon after, the shop’s owner came over and started assembling a mass of small coffee cups, bottled water and other gear.

Turns out that a couple of hours earlier, I had settled into a seat at the Onyx Coffee Lab‘s cupping table.

Lean Customer Development

What I witnessed next was a nice session of customer development.

In addition to enjoying some new-to-me coffees, I watched as the owner exposed already-bought-in customers to new products that he’s considering for their product mix. None of the coffees we tasted are available for sale – the owner was still determining which ones he liked and presumably was using the reaction of this group to refine his opinion.

Later, I found out that the shop does cuppings (think “wine tasting” for coffee) almost every Saturday at 10 am. Sometimes they discuss different brew methods or other coffee geekery – always with a dual focus on education (building a better customer/spokesperson) and the coffee itself. This week, the education component included some help understanding how the coffee business grades coffees, ie: specialty vs run of the mill vs “not-so-specialty” coffee and how the various acids and sugars in the bean result in what we taste and feel when we have a cuppa Joe.

I didn’t discuss this with the owner after the cupping, but I suspect this was not only done in the interest of Lean Startup style customer development, but also to gather some feedback from those bought-in customers – presumably some of their biggest, best-engaged fans – as well as to build on their fanbase while pulling existing fans a bit closer.

I wish these sessions were on YouTube. They’d make a nice series for new fans to review as they choose their next “thirdplace“, much less for fans who missed a Saturday.

Oh yeah, the coffee

Coffee nerds, if you’re wondering what we tasted, we had:

  • Brazil Caturra
  • Burundi Bourbon (pronounced burr-bone, which has nothing to do with Jack Daniels)
  • Guatemala Geisha (no, nothing to do with Japanese bathhouses)
  • Ethiopian Heirloom (this one seemed to be the crowd favorite)

I preferred the last two, but I wonder if the order of their presentation provoked that result.

All in all, it was a great combination of StartupWeekend, coffee and the use of Lean Startup principles. Yet there’s one more lesson you can take from it.

In what position do they see you?

How can you can tweak and use this for your business? By understanding that a cuppings aren’t just about coffee, they’re about positioning.

  • The owner shares his coffee insight, education, expertise and knowledge with a group of customers who appear to be insiders. Almost everyone else in the shop is watching and listening intently since they don’t have a seat at the table (it’s first come, first serve). Some of them want a seat at the table.
  • The owner gets to meet with customers who have raised their hand to show they’re interested at a level beyond the customer norm. These folks will talk about the shop, its coffee, the cupping and anything else they felt was important. These people have other friends with common interests – including coffee. You know it’ll be discussed. In fact, you just read what I shared about it.
  • “Raising their hand” says “I care about, enjoy, have enthusiasm about coffee at a higher level than your average customer.” Just being a customer at a “coffee lab” shows a higher than typical interest in coffee. These guys go beyond that norm. Those are the customers for whom your positioning is most important. They are also the customers whose feedback you want.

How you can accomplish these things for your business?

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Competition Positioning Small Business The Slight Edge

Standing out is the real work #sponsored

Fifth position

Note: I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. See full disclosure at the bottom of this post.
 
How do customers and prospects look at you vs. others in your industry?
 

For example:

  • What are your competitors best known for? Why do customers choose them rather than everyone else in your industry – including you?
  • How does your competition’s “best known” thing compare to what you’re best known for? Why do customers choose you rather than everyone else in your industry?

How are those two “best known” things different?

Is it the products you carry? Or do your products primarily come from the same manufacturers as your competition?

How about the services you offer? Are they the same or similar to what your competitors offer?

Beyond the products and services you sell, how much effort are you putting into distinguishing what you’re best known for? If you want to stand out, these things require serious thought and effort on a regular basis.

How do you stand out?

One thing that businesses use to differentiate themselves is how they manage deployment and delivery. Not just the speed, but little touches related to ramp up, appointment management, packaging, follow-up, etc.

For example, 10 years ago, only the best plumbers would slip little white Tyvek booties over their boots when they entered a client’s house. This sent a then-unique signal to the homeowner that the plumber cares enough to address a common complaint of repair people – that they track in dirt/mud and leave without cleaning it up.

Today, it’s unusual not to see the booties – and that’s a good thing.

Leaders get copied

In the short term, you should expect your smarter competitors to copy the little details you implement – particularly the easy ones. Leaders get copied. Keep paying attention to the little details that your customers appreciate and keep adding new ones. Tip: The details that look like a lot of work will be the things your competitors are least likely to clone.

You should expect some of these little touches to become your industry’s “best practices.” In other words, your average competitors will do some of them – and that’s OK. When you’re regularly focused on things that make you stand out, you’ll always be ahead of your industry’s “best practices” curve.

Don’t be shy about reminding your clientele that you’re the one who started doing ‘that little thing’ for your clients that everyone else has finally started doing, much less informing them when you add new things.

Why should they choose you?

The classic marketing question is, “Why should someone choose you over all other competitors?”

To help answer that question, you’d better have a story that helps people understand why you do what you do the way you do it. It’s important to set this context because the story helps them learn why they should use you and no one else.

Last week, I was talking to a software guy whose clients got infected by an email virus.

He noted that they’ve changed their policies to scan for viruses in their email. I mentioned that it was surprising that email scanning would be new behavior. His reply: “They’re a small company and this is the first time they’ve been attacked.”

This surprised me, so I asked if this company had ever heard of anyone getting a virus via email before, and if they used anti-virus software prior to this episode. He said “I don’t know, I just sell them a product and I’m not a retailer.”

If that isn’t a positioning problem, I don’t know what is.

Anyone or the only one?

Anyone can “just sell a product” or take an order. If that’s all you do, you can be replaced with an online shopping cart. Even if your product is unique to you, “just selling a product” is poor positioning.

It takes a special business to be the go-to vendor that a client turns to when they need advice. “I don’t want them contacting me about every little thing,” you might say.

Actually, you do.

If you’re the one regularly providing them with valuable info that helps them improve and protect their business, you’ll become their expert. You’ll be the one they turn to when they need advice and when they need help in the form of products and services.

You can take orders and be anyone, or you can be their only one.

DISCLOSURE: I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business.

The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently.

Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.

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Advertising Creativity Customer relationships Direct Marketing google Internet marketing Positioning Small Business Strategy

Google India knows that Business is Personal

Brilliant.

What stories are you telling about your customers that can illustrate the power of the value you deliver?

No matter what you do, I’ll bet you have stories to tell. When will you start sharing them?

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Business culture Competition Customer relationships customer retention Improvement Positioning Small Business systems The Slight Edge

How to create good surprises? Baby steps.

Surprise...

Recently, a couple of real estate transactions provoked me to write about surprises.

In that piece, surprises were not a good thing.

Yet sometimes, surprises are exactly what you want to deliver. So how do you decide which surprises are good and which aren’t?

You need to find a difference to choose a good one – but how? Try substituting a different word for “surprise”, such as “delight”.

Now ask yourself, what would delight your customers?

You might think lower prices would delight them – and while they might appreciate that, you need to think harder.

We’re looking for things that your customer would talk about the next day or week – and remember long enough to influence them to come back.

If you aren’t sure – think about the last time you found yourself delighted by something a business did. Think about how that felt. With that experience in mind, you’re ready to start looking for places to tweak your customers’ experience. So where do you find them?

Baby Steps

I think one of the best ways to figure out these little tweaks that transform your customers’ experience is to walk through the process of doing business with you in little, tiny steps: Baby Steps.

Walk through the process with each type of customer. Start with the acquisition of the lead – even if that’s a cold call from them to your business. Continue through the entire purchase and delivery cycle, identifying places where trouble could occur, where little touches would transform the experience and where little failures could sabotage the whole deal.

You should keep client expectations in mind as you follow the baby steps looking for tweaks. Expectations will differ depending on the size, type and culture of the client, as well as between business and consumer clientele.

Expectations differ by client size

When looking for things to change for a business client, consider the size of their business. You’ll want to adjust what you do based on their size because size alters how they operate.

For example, small business clients might handle invoicing, payment and receiving themselves – or a single bookkeeper/accountant may handle it. At a large client, you could easily involve dozens of people, depending on what you’re delivering. The experience – and the baby steps – should differ substantially.

Consider building a unique process for each substantially different size of client to avoid making your tweaks into the wrong kind of surprise.

For example, if your billing process is designed to make things easy for a small business bookkeeper, that process won’t likely go so well when implemented with large corporate accounting and receiving departments. Likewise, the reverse will just as likely be annoying to large clients.

Expectations differ by client culture

Client size isn’t the only factor that can alter what you do to delight them. Client culture is just as important.

For example, if you’re a wedding photographer or planner, you’re likely to handle the wedding of a Manhattan couple differently than you would a couple in the rural South or any other place substantially different in culture from NYC. Keep client mobility in mind. Even in the smallest of towns, you may find yourself working with clients from Paris, NYC or London.

It isn’t just about big cities vs. small towns. Internal culture can differ widely from the suits and ties at IBM to t-shirts and Xbox at Google. As a result, your processes and the tweaks you implement should consider how things work internally at your client, as well as how they don’t.

Expectations differ by service level

If you want to fine tune your customers’ experience and put a fence around them that no one can break through, we’re not done yet.

One set of processes for businesses and another for consumers, if that fits your business, isn’t enough.

One process for each size of client isn’t enough.

One process that fits the culture for each client isn’t enough.

You’ll want different processes for each service level your clients purchase: Good, better, best.

How do I get all of this done?

Finish one process at a time, then move to the next.

You”ll want documented processes with systems to make sure they’re done every right time. High tech isn’t necessary. A wall of clipboards works better than going from memory.

Making it easy on them doesn’t have to be hard on you.

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Automation Business culture Business Resources Buy Local Customer relationships Employees Improvement Positioning Setting Expectations Small Business strategic planning

Why isn’t everyone on time?

IMG_1362

One of the things I notice while working with clients (and being one) is that some of us are pretty good at making things hard on our customers.

Hard on customers?

You might be.

Let’s clean up a few things so you can make it easier on them (and easier to keep them as clients).

Show up on time

Given that so many people have smart phones, smart watches, computers in their cars and so on – you would *think* that they’d be on time more often.

When you don’t show up when you said you would, you make it hard on your customers. I know, I know. You can’t always do that.

Here’s what you can do – the instant you know there’s a chance you’ll be late, call to warn them. Give them options (bail or wait?) If you can, dispatch someone else to take care of their situation. Few things annoy a customer or partner more than setting time aside (or taking time off work) to meet you, only to have you show up 90 minutes late without a call.

While it’s an obvious, common sense competitive edge, why isn’t everyone on time?

Close the four hour window

My impression is that a lot of vendors are getting better at this, but there are still enough out there telling their customers that they’ll meet them between 8:00 AM and noon, or “sometime in the afternoon”.

This shows a (perhaps passive) lack of respect for the customer’s time.

Do you really manage your time and your staff / equipment resources so poorly that you can’t estimate arrival windows to smaller increments than half a day? I doubt it. I think you’ve gotten used to it and haven’t changed it because it’s comfortable. Comfortable for you, that is. I assure you that your customers don’t feel this way. Don’t trust me on this – ask your customers if they’d appreciate a smaller window. They might even pay more to get a smaller window.

Arrive with what you need

Sometimes, you don’t know what the deal is because the customer didn’t explain the situation too well. Sometimes you don’t know what size of this or that to show up with, and if you took this too far and showed up with the right parts every time, you’d have to drive an eighteen wheeler to work. While you probably can’t know what you need every single time, do what you can to reduce the “I’ll be right back, gotta grab some parts” trips. They increase your overhead and they annoy your customer.

Make it easy to pay

Offer some payment convenience.

Fewer and fewer people like handing over a piece of paper with their bank account number on it (ie: a check). If you get a smartphone-enable credit card reader such as Square, you save a trip to the bank and they get to pay without a check – if that’s what they want to do.

Keep track of the paper

If you must save the business paperwork that your customers send you and you can’t replace the paper system with something else (assuming that thing will work better), make sure you can find their paperwork when you need it.records. I recently sold a house. On two separate occasions, the deal was almost scuttled (or made far more expensive) because someone misfiled paperwork related to little things like septic plans and wells. A sharp agent is the only thing that prevented an expensive, annoying outcome.

Making it easy back at the ranch

Fact is, we don’t limit this “making it hard” thing to customers. We’re also pretty good at making things hard on our own people.

While work isn’t necessarily supposed to be easy, there’s no reason to make it more difficult than it already is. Each of the make-it-easier for customers things have an impact on your staff. Your internal systems for communication, tracking and appointment management are critical to making this easy to fulfill for your clients. If they aren’t, your products and servers are much less likely to be delivered in a friction-free manner. Don’t make your staff fight the system to get their work done.

Always be looking for bumpy spots and internal / external hassles you can eliminate. Make it easy for them to recommend you to someone, and to call you back the next time.