By Daniel Wadleigh
Most printers and copy shops think they are in the copy business. Most heating and cooling companies think that they are in the repair or replace business. They are failing to grasp their customers' true desires.
When you bring a job to a printer or copy shop, you are looking for communication devices - on paper. What you want is effective communication. If the customer service rep handling your order merely duplicates what you submit for production, the rep is saying one of three things:
The second and third possibilities do not serve your interests as a customer. And if you adopt a similar approach in your dealings with merchants, you will be at risk of losing business to someone (anyone) who will help to improve and maximize your customers' business operations as much as possible.
When you have a heating or cooling problem, you call a licensed heating or cooling contractor. Most contractors will quickly diagnose and repair the problem.
In these situations, you want real experts to advise you and provide you with maximum comfort and economy. And, when appropriate, you will agree to pay $100 per month for peace of mind. What you want is minimum breakdowns, minimum cost and maximum comfort.
If your contractor is not advising you of ways to maximize comfort (digital thermostat, solar screens on the windows, new evaporator coil, sealing leaky ductwork and so forth) he's at risk of losing your business to someone with a more thoughtful approach and follow-through.
When you go to the grocery store, you are looking for food that is nutritious, filling, easy to prepare, good tasting and economically priced.
If the store doesn't identify those hot-button desires, it will not advise you of the many ways its products fulfill your needs. And it is vulnerable to losing your business to a competitor that does a better job of addressing what you want when you visit the grocery store.
Companies that don't provide targeted information that speaks to customers' often unspoken, but very real, needs, are saying one or more of the following:
I offered these insights to a major credit card company in 1996. The response at the time was, "No thanks. We are in the credit card business, not the business services business." Now the company's ads are all about business services.
Company executives now realize they aren't in the credit card business; they are in the business of increasing profits for businesses, primarily through credit cards, but not limited to that.
The same is true for you. Consider what added values your customers want, and tell them how to get them from only you. In particular, look for repeat products and services, so you can stay in contact and establish strong, positive relationships. Nothing is more important than that.
You will also have to treat your customers like royalty and family, otherwise the relationships will not be positive. And you need to supply them with useful information on a regular basis. It's OK to slip in the occasional offering, but make sure it is something that will be good for them.
This will give you repeat sales; your merchants will see you as an expert adviser and a good guy. It will generate and reinforce customer loyalty and - best of all - referrals.
Daniel Wadleigh is a veteran marketing consultant in the payments industry. He offers an educational program that is available on a PowerPoint presentation and designed to help ISOs elevate themselves above the competition. For more information, contact Daniel at 512-803-0956.
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