What is the best gift you can give your customers (and yourself…) this Christmas? You might be surprised at our answer – it’s the opportunity to have a moan.
Chances are, as you read this, your business does not have a monopoly in your industry sector. You don’t have 80%+ market share, and you’d love to grow and win more business and customers. So, what’s stopping you? On the surface this seems like an easy question, but as you try and answer it there are likely many things that spring to mind… But at its heart, the reason you can’t command more market share is because your business cannot offer, or customers at least aren’t aware that you can offer, a service offering along with your products which is significantly better than your competition. So, how do you build the capabilities to be able to offer, and ‘sell’, a superior service so that it is a no brainer for customers to give you their business?
Assuming that your products/services are comparable to your competitors’, the only thing that will ensure your business stands out is how well you coordinate and take care of your customers. How do you guarantee your business is good to work with? Ironically, by understanding how bad you are to work with…
Your team is likely doing a great job, but unless you can comprehend the headaches your customers suffer from when they are buying from you or your competitors, you can’t offer them an unbeatable service. The only way you’ll create a unique, irrefusable offer is by properly understanding your customer’s environments. Your customers may have a problem with the unpredictability of delivery, or are being “forced” to purchase large quantities by being offered price breaks; it could be that your lead-times are long and there is no fast response when they have emergencies, or it could be low stock availability meaning they have to protect themselves with excess inventory; maybe it’s the amount of cash they have tied up in your products and therefore not having cash available for other endeavours, or the warehouse space required to store them. It could be any of these things, or something else entirely. Understanding these complaints will allow you to assess what challenges exist for your customers and why they occur.
Then you can then look at what your business is doing which enables these problems. It might be the way you sell, the lead-times you offer, your capacities, or your ability to reserve capacities; it might be your on-time performance or your minimum order quantities, the list goes on. However, when you understand what and why your business (and your competitors’) forces your customers to suffer in this way, you can develop ways to improve and remove it.
This isn’t an improvement you need to make to the goods you sell; this is about the offering around the product/service you deliver. Terms, quantities, prices, rebates – these are the things you should be looking at. If your customers aren’t 100% happy, it’s almost a guarantee that if you solve a problem for them, they will absolutely stay with you. What’s more, if you can solve a problem for your current customers, then you can offer it to new ones when your competition isn’t able to do the same. This is the way to bring in that new business you have been looking to win – offer a better service wrapper around the goods/services you provide the marketplace. What do we mean by ‘better’? Solving more problems for your customers.
So, what is the best gift you can give your customers this Christmas? The opportunity for them to share their problems with you – let them have a moan! In actuality, they are the ones who will be giving you a gift. They will give you the knowledge you need to become a leader in your marketplace.
Goldratt UK helps clients to develop a Decisive Competitive Edge and build the capabilities to deliver it. If this sounds like something you are interested in, request more information at [email protected] or by ringing 01234 384510.
Alternatively, if you’re simply looking for some support/guidance when it comes to opening up discussions with your own customers to establish that win-win relationship, we can provide you with additional resources so that you are as prepared as possible.
By Phil Snelgrove, Lauren Wiles