It is no secret — business is getting tougher these days. It is difficult if not impossible to raise prices enough to compensate for rising costs; and as if that weren’t enough, today’s demanding customers will defect to a competitor at the slightest provocation.
OK, the security business isn’t all sweetness and light, but not to worry — many (most, really) of your competitors have yet to recognize something that you don’t ever want to forget: Security is a people business. Security professionals sell their services to people, not to objects. Whether it is a complete security system or just a little design advice, success depends directly on the satisfaction of the person on the receiving end of the transaction. All the business school expertise in the world is no substitute for an understanding of that basic business principle.
Here are eight important ways to help you acknowledge the value of each of your customers, keep them coming back for more…and leave your competition in the dust:
1. Take action on those things that most of your competitors only talk about.
It is sad but true: The principles that separate successful and profitable businesses from the also-rans have been well known for decades. There’s nothing magical about them — they are easy to learn and even easier to put into effect. Still, they go largely ignored by the majority of business owners. These days, it has become popular to bundle up some of those old business philosophies in new clothing and present them as original, innovative business techniques.
Forty years ago, management consultants were exhorting business owners to excel in customer satisfaction, just as they are today. Then, as now, only a small percentage heeded that valuable advice and went on to reap the rewards. The majority simply nodded in agreement while giving little more than lip service to the subject. Many of your competitors are making that same mistake today.
As you know from your own experience, it is a pleasure to do business with a company that has made customer satisfaction its top priority because it is fun to be around people who enjoy their work.
Of course, it is even more fun to look at an operating statement with a healthy bottom line. Make sure that you take action on the following management techniques — things that most of your competitors only talk about.
2. Take the time to listen to your customers; make sure that you’re providing the satisfaction they expect.
Successful security professionals take nothing for granted when it comes to their most valuable assets: their customers. There are a number of ways to find out how well you are doing in that department. The best ones involve asking customers themselves how they feel about your services. Telephone or mail surveys of random samplings of customers are the easiest and most popular way to stay tuned in to their attitudes. Whatever satisfaction survey method you choose, stick with it. Once you establish a program for evaluating your customer satisfaction efforts, install that method as a permanent part of your operating procedures.
3. Remember that people do business with people they like.
If you and your employees are highly skilled but working in a clinically detached manner, you are overlooking one of the easiest ways to keep your customers coming back for more. Worse, you are ensuring that you will have to replace many customers who would otherwise keep coming back and generating new referrals.
Many years ago, car salesman Joe Girard established a system for mailing what he called a “nice note” to each of his customers and prospects. Even when his mailing list grew into the thousands, Joe kept up with his mailing chores — and this was before computers simplified the task.
Did it pay off? Certainly. Girard is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the all-time automobile sales champion. In one year alone, he sold 1,425 cars. That’s an average of about four cars per day for an entire year. Should you be sending postcards to your customers now and then? It is an inexpensive way to keep in touch, and computers have made the job a lot easier than it was in Girard’s day.