Sunday, September 16, 2007

Week 46 - Provide a Thrill Factor in a Welcoming Environment

Whatever you deliver, it has to be consistent. Once your systems are in place you will realize that it is not difficult to deliver a consistent service or product as these systems will support you every step of the way. Another way to climb out of the pile of competitors is to actually exceed their expectations. You see, most people expect decent service - that is, they expect you to go through the motions, supplying them, giving them their change and moving on. Not bad, not great, just good decent service.

Most customers will be shocked if you go out of your way to make the transaction a truly memorable event. This “thrill” factor is lacking in 99% of businesses today, which is great for you because it gives you the opportunity to differentiate yourself. Nearly every business success throughout the world counts “creating outstanding experiences” as the one of the keys to their success.

The flip side of this is bad experiences – have you ever called a business at 5:31pm and received a recorded message stating they are only available between 8:30 and 5:30pm? How does that make you feel? Even worse, what if you call back again in the morning at 9 a.m., and the message is still playing? Make sure you DON’T do this in your business. It shows that you don’t have a system and secondly that you don’t really respect the time of those that are trying to call. One thing I have not said until now is that EVERYTHING you do is marketing in some way so you must review your performance in these areas.

Sabotage doesn’t end with your phone system… The final touch to any systems based business is of course the impression you create when someone calls into your premises. Whether you are working from home, an office or even out of the back of a truck, you need to be projecting an image that is consistent with your traditional marketing and the reputation you seek.

What sort of coffee do you serve? Are your waiting room magazines 3 years old? Is your van filthy and disorganised? How does your business look? How does it smell, what is the decoration like – is it visually interesting – is it an inviting space?

There is a newsagent in Sydney who simply uses his business as a distribution point for papers and magazines – absolutely no effort has been made to make the shop inviting. There is mess everywhere, old posters – it always makes me think how little pride these people must have in their business. What about the hair salons that have the 10 year old, yellowing photos in the window? Not only do they look dated and worn – the hair styles have even gone out of fashion!

The usual excuse for this is that the owner simply does not have the money to update their premises. That may be the case, but this lack of funds is ultimately linked to all of the other issues we have discussed week to week. Once some progress has been made toward implementing systems, creating new income streams and running effective marketing campaigns, this situation will turn around and it is then that the premises must be dealt with. Nobody wants to eat in a dirty little diner anymore. Have you recently walked by a fast food shop which has not updated its interior in 10 years? These businesses have no real hope of survival unless they commit the dollars to renovation.

Just like meeting someone face to face, you only get one chance at that first impression. So a dirty restroom or broken piece of furniture may not seem like a priority to you today but think of the long term damage it can do, especially when you recall that each customer is worth a lot more than they actually spend on that day!

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