Turning Customers into Raving Fans
There’s nothing much that beats going to the footy at the packed Melbourne Cricket Ground and yelling yourself hoarse as you celebrate each spectacular mark and miracle goal. Footy fans everywhere are on their feet, waving their banners and fist-pumping. Which raises the very issue when running a franchise business: how do I get customers to become raving fans?
The answer is this: Your business will only be very successful and thrive when there are more and more delighted customers beating down your doors. That will only happen if you and your team become obsessively customer-centric.
What does obsessive customer-centricity involve?
Just to ‘keep the customer satisfied’ is so 1980s and does not cut it in today’s highly competitive market place, industry by industry. Everywhere, customers hold the trump card. They are incredibly fussy and demanding, and they have every right to be that way. They are paying good dollars for a high-quality product and exceptional service. Nothing less will do. And, if they get less, then they will take their custom elsewhere because your very good competitors are lurking everywhere, ready to deliver a better product and service.
The starting point is to focus on each customer touchpoint in your business. That means assessing (for better or for worse) the experience of your customers whenever they connect with your business, be it visiting your website, on the phone, purchasing online, walking in the front door, at the counter, transacting a sale, and the like. The aim is to improve the customer experience at each such touchpoint until customers become surprised and delighted by actually experiencing something quite exceptional in each interaction with your business.
Secondly, as a franchise business, you will already have the competitive advantage of brand recognition over your business competitors. However, more is needed if you are to truly stand out in the eyes of customers as the ‘go-to’ business in your industry or sector. Your business needs to be different to make a difference. You need to discover and create entirely new products or services or improve current products or services, above and beyond those of your competitors. Choose not to be same-old but to be decidedly better and then you will stand-out in the marketplace. Note: as a franchisee, remember your franchisor must approve any new business initiatives.
Riders on becoming obsessively customer-centric:
There are three important riders, namely:
Realise that all power in business has now shifted to customers. They do not care all that much about your business and its golden future. They look for the value and benefit that your business will deliver to them and for the opportunities they can get from your business. You cannot expect loyalty these days. It is best to presume that any potential customer of yours might turn around and walk into another business quicker than you can blink. Your whole attitude needs to flip around, and you need to think, act and talk from a different mindset, doing everything possible to be the supplier of choice, customer by customer.
No matter what your franchise business sells, you are in the people business. In the eighties, we all sold products and services. These days, you need to value people and, to some degree or another, seek to build enjoyable, life-giving relationships with customers by taking a genuine interest in them and their lives, as opportunity might arise. A focus on the relationship with others will then compel the giving of the very best of yourself to them and serving them wholeheartedly. All of this cannot be contrived or insincere. It must happen authentically and come from heart and soul.
The degree to which a business is customer-centric depends on the extent to which it enjoys the trust and confidence of its customers. In this day and age, where mistrust and cynicism abound (most often for a good reason), the imbuing of trust and confidence is an absolute imperative. Trust and confidence derived from the relationship, undergirded by consistently keeping promises and assurances, and always being entirely reliable and dependable in doing what you say, when you say we will do it.
Tips for becoming obsessively customer-centric:
- Picture exactly what your customers will get in the future that they are not getting today, once your business is obsessively customer-centric.
- Obsessive customer-centricity starts with you, the business leader.
- Coach and inspire your team to become obsessively customer-centric.
- Make customer-centricity integral to your workplace culture.
- Create a customer care charter, listing the standards required for delivering exceptional product and service, followed by policies, processes and protocols about what must happen at each customer touchpoint.
- Seek ideas, guidance and feedback from customers and team members about improving customer experience.
- Provide a satisfaction guarantee (of some sort, not necessarily involving a full refund) in respect to product and service.
- Create a list of free customer benefits.
- Price discounting is a very short term and inadequate solution of last resort.
- Never, ever ‘over promise and under deliver’.
- Give and serve, not get, get and get.
- Have fun with customers and enjoy your relationship with them!
To turn customers into raving fans, become obsessively customer-centric in all aspects of your franchise business. Then, stand clear of the doors!
David Sharrock is the Managing Principal of Sharrock Pitman Legal, a Melbourne based, boutique commercial law practice. He is an accredited Business Law Specialist, an accredited Mediator, public speaker, and author of a new business work book titled Fighting for Enterprise Success: through the eye of the tiger (for further detail go to www.fightingforenterprisesuccess.com ).