Friday, May 26, 2006

Why Am I Losing Customers and Employees?

I was challenged over on one of the online Social/Business/Skinhead sites (I want name it here so not to provide them any credibility) on the importance of what I am telling people about securing customers and employees in order to secure your business. 


My response over there was somewhat abbreviated due to my interest to provide them more content than it was worth.  But over here I wanted to keep my four readers completely advised on what is being preached by other consultants and coaches that will drive a business out of business.


Now it is well know that I am passionate about my mission and what I want to provide people who are looking for the answer to their ‘Why’ questions.  And the questions that caused this discussion was, ‘Why am I loosing my customer and employees?’.  This question is asked a lot and there is a reason I have now discovered for what has caused this question to now be so frequently asked.


I feel very strongly that all businesses, large or small, corporate or one person single practice professionals should spend 80% of their time with their customers or employees.  The reason being very simply and is the answer to these simple questions.  Who got you where you are now?  And, who is going to get you to where you want to be?  The answer to both questions is; your customers and your employees.


And here was where I was challenged.  Seems there are a number of consultants who feel threatened with this proven method of doing business and feel that more, if not all, of a business person’s attention and money spent should go to finding New Customers.  I cannot and will not disagree that new customers will grow your business and add more profitability, but cannot, will not and will stand behind the fact that it does not make a company grow or profitable if for every customer you gain you lose two existing customers.  And to take that powerful statement to the next level by adding, it doesn’t make a dang difference how many customers you gain and how many you keep if you are loosing employees at a higher rate that the customer gain or lose.


Those two components of business, where the initial work, time and money a business spent to win over customers and to hire and train employees to provide services or manufacture products for theses customers, are very important investments.  And like any investment it needs to be managed so you do not lose value of that investment.


What is the best way to manage this investment?  Take frequent opportunities to show both your customers and employees your sincere appreciation.  And what is meant by sincere is more than sending out a card or a gift with a note saying thank you.  To show your sincerity you have to spend a considerable about of Face-to-face time with each individual.  The more time the better…


What does all of this face-to-face time get you???  Well, amongst a number of things, trust, respect and loyalty push to the front.  Why?  Because time is a commodity, that if used correctly, is worth more than money can by.  You cannot buy trust, respect or loyalty.  Many have tried; consultants are still out there telling you should only throw something of value to your customers to thank them so you can focus on finding those new customers.  Why are they saying this?


To get to this answer, let me now wheel the sword of reality at the contradictions of these naysayers who challenge this sound business practice and feel threaten of the money they have invested pushing a proven philosophy that will take a business to edge of bankruptcy quickly.


I’ve been told that statistics show that a large number of a business’ customer base will not return for a large number of reason and no matter what efforts a business takes to secure their customer base will not reduce the number.  They base this upon customers today being ‘perpetually fickle’ or having the ‘not wanting to put all of the egg’s in one basket’ mentality.


For those who believe that then you can probably hear the stinging hiss of the edge of the sword of reality coming towards you..


Let me take on the perception of the ‘perpetually flick’ customers by starting with my favorite question, ‘Why?’.  The answer is in the question, ‘Have you asked these customer why?’.   AhOOOO that blade stings doesn’t’ it? 


Yes, did you ask them?  Do you even know which of those customers who are like that?  If no is the answer then the answer to the first ‘Why’ question is most likely NO with a perception being ‘you must not have cared enough to ask’.


OK, for the backswing of the sword of reality, how about the customers who have the ‘not wanting to put all of their eggs in one basket’ mentality?  I am sure you can not only hear it, but now can see the blade coming down on you so just stick you neck out and lets get this over with.  The answer to this ‘why’ question is exactly the same.   You do not even know who these customers are or why they have this attitude.  What a pathetic shame… a good business person wasted because they did not want to spent the time or money to manage their most important investment, existing customers. 


Now I stick my blade into the chin of large businesses who try to smash this method of doing business as ‘impossible’ or ‘out of the question’.  And then quickly provide justification of ‘there is no way we can spend that much time with the hundreds or thousands or millions of customers we have’.   This jab usually produces a defensive move to protect from a blow to the head by holding up a shield by saying ‘a certain portion of our customer and employee base will have to considered disposable and will be built into our model of doing businesses’.  Just the cost of doing business…  Isn’t that what they are telling all of the customers stuck on an 800# talking to someone in India about the product of services you bought from these large businesses?


Disposable customers and employees… the scream of pain from a wounded beast.


The bottomline here is this.  If these businesses who ask me ‘Where have all of my customers and employees gone’ had just taken the time to get to know their customers from the point of sale until the next time they need your product or services, the questions would not only be answered but not even needed to asked.


If you had taken the time to ask them ‘how you are doing?’ and follow it with ‘how else can I help you?’, you would found out right then the answer to the ‘Why’ questions.   This same line of thinking goes to the way you treat your employees.  Get to know then more than a payroll number.  Taking the time to get to know them will tell you why they think the way they do and why they do what they do.  This is worth every dime of your investment and every minute of the time you spend.


The mercy I offer to my now mortally wounded business consultants who have challenged me on this issue is, by showing your customers respect, and showing them you trust them, you will build loyalty amongst your customer base towards your business.  From loyalty of your customers will come the New Customers that grow your business and a much lower turnover in your employee base…this is fact, not fiction…


I can’t leave without saying that playing Business Golf is the only way you can attempt to rapidly catch-up to getting to know your customers and employees.  If you don’t play golf you should learn.  If your customers or employees don’t play golf you should provide them the opportunity to learn.  Golf is a VERY strong business tool that produces more than an opportunity for some healthy exercise, if builds trust, respect and loyalty.  Don’t believe me!  Try it before you criticize.  Lack of interest towards it is not justification for criticism.   I find that knowing what you are talking about has much more credibility than attacking on the bases of not knowing, or worst, your personal feelings based on lack of interest…  After you have tried playing Business Golf the way I instruct it, then come to me with criticism.  I will welcome your thoughts..


Scot Duke


Innovative Business Golf Solutions, LLC.


Author of: ‘How To Play Business Golf’, From The Boardroom To The Fairways…

The best investment you can make for your business…




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