One question businesses should be able to answer
Some things never change. The question, “Are we there yet?” has been asked, throughout the years, by impatient “passengers” who are looking forward to excitement, thrills, and the discovery of what’s to come. June marks the halfway point in the calendar year, so this is a good time to begin looking to see if “we’re there yet,” and to begin thinking about, and planning for, the kinds of excitement, thrills, discovery — and work — that will come with the second half of the year.
For the past couple of years, businesses in just about every industry have had sales challenges. The difficult economy had customers reluctant to sign on the dotted line, or they had to be stingy with their spendable coins. Lately, things are getting back to normal. Many businesses are busy now; however, some are still saying, “Are we there yet?”
Every business has a certain amount of attrition due to personnel changes and relationships. Customer relations experts tell us that customers change suppliers/vendors for several reasons, including that they’re unhappy with:
- The product’s performance;
- The value they expected to receive;
- Quality that didn’t live up to their expectations;
- The service and attitude of sales personnel was not up to par; and
- Dissatisfaction with their salesperson.
Selling experts tell us the majority of customers take their business to a different place because they don’t think the current company is listening to what they say and ask for. Sometimes, they even feel ignored.
Since we’re at the midpoint of the selling year, and since customers are buying differently now, this might be a good time to reinvent the way a company cultivates, nourishes, and works to find and keep good clients.
Some very knowledgeable people I know — the ones I’d call customer relations experts — say we should pay attention to what should be an obvious “rule”: that customers expect a business to deliver what was promised, and on time.
A very successful retailer friend of mine told me, “The customers you lose hold the information you need to succeed.” That makes sense to me. How can we know how to improve or keep up with trends — or, as Marshall Field, the once-great retailing genius said, “Give the customer what she wants” — if we don’t listen to our customers?
Experts say that successful managers work on midyear corrections. Even though they may be responsible for daily production, they make it a priority to keep track of “where they are” at all times. They stay on top of things so they’ll know when they “get there.” They make pockets of time to position the company for the future. Their game plans include:
- Staying on top of market changes and trends. They read all industry information.
- Designing and planning their own company’s changes.
- Planning for employee training and development. They ask for, and welcome, employee ideas.
- Looking for ways to make their products quicker, better, and more cost effective.
- Developing long-term relationships with their customers. They are always focused on their customer’s needs.
- Understand that those who are in charge have to do more than simply making sure things go right today. What gets done today will create what happens tomorrow — it’s the future of the company.
People who know what’s happening in their businesses can usually answer the question, “Are we there yet?”
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