This month, take the time to show the special people in our life how much we care.

Well, only customers create cash flow, so they need to be among your special people. It doesn’t take roses, chocolates, or cards. It just means taking tangible steps to let them know you care.
1. Pick up the phone instead of leaving them in a maze of automated responses: Do you get annoyed when you’re on the receiving end of “your call is important to us… we are currently experiencing higher than normal call volumes…” or “ Press 1 for X, press 2 for Y, press 3 for Z… with no option to reach a real person. Play customer for a day. Call your company. See what you experience. Then take steps to get people to a real voice.

2. Get it right the first time: It’s estimated that senior executives spend up to 30% of their time dealing with escalated customer service issues. And the majority of customer service issues are what I call “self-inflicted wounds” – mistakes on the part of the company that could have been avoided. Think of the costs you could avoid and the time you could back into your busy schedule when you achieve “get it right the first time”.

3. Save them time: There’s never enough time in your day. Your customers have the same challenge. Are your products easy to use or convoluted? Are your ordering processes streamlined or cumbersome? What can you do to make their lives easier and save them time?

4. Stop selling and start listening: When customers leave, 3 out of 4 times its because they feel a sense of indifference on the part of the vendor. The very best way to show customers that they matter is to listen to their goals, their roadblocks, their issues, their plans, their challenges, and what they need from you to make it happen (which may or may not be in your current product and service lines) .

5. Save or make them money: Making a customer look good never goes out of style. But this is not about discounts. It’s about digging deeper to present an irresistible value proposition. Nobody wants to buy a drill, they want to buy what the drill can do for them. How can you change the conversation from features and benefits to the return on investment they get when they do business with you.

6. Be the path of least resistance: Have you ever noted that parks and campuses have formal paths as well as the informal dirt paths of people getting where they need to go faster? When you look at what it takes to do business with you vs. your competition, make sure you’re not trying to force-fit your customers onto “your” well-laid out path. Instead, get them where they want to go.

7. Solve their little problems: When the inevitable happens and you don’t get it right the first time, get it right the second time. Simply empower your front-line people to create a positive experience for your customers instead of making them feel like a salmon swimming upstream. Research shows that your front line people will give away less in concessions than a manager will, once the issue is escalated.

8. Create a feel good: When you think about all of the vendor interactions you have each day in your personal or work life, how many of them are enjoyable? How many of them do you dread? How many are so bland that you don’t even remember them? Customers will always have an experience. Only you can determine if its good, bland, or bad.

9. Solve their real problems: These are the ones that you have nothing to do with but that you may be able to do something about when you think about beyond business as usual. These are the ones that are slowing them down in their business that need your ingenuity and talents to think outside the box. If you’re not sure what they are, go back to #4.

10. Provide peace of mind: Think about the people whom you do business with who go beyond being a vendor and become a partner, someone that you can count on to always come through for you, whatever it takes. Is that how your customers see you? Or is your firm the one that keeps them up at night, wondering if you’ll come through for them?
Ten deceptively simple steps that we all say “of course” when we read them… but on a scale of 1-10, how would your customers rate you on each of these? Take the time to find out in the next 10 weeks. Value Creation Conversations can help you with this… feel free to connect with me for more details.