Does your business model favor how you want to do business or how your customers do? Is it how it’s always been done or are you looking to see what your customers want? Recently this really came to light when I was working with a company on a project - and fired them.
I have a project I’ve been working on for some time and have a few local vendors for this type of project that I have really liked working with. In fact, for years, I’ve been working with one of these vendors and have always been happy with their product, quality and pricing.
However the service has always been “like in the olden days.” In other words, few calls back, when you do call them about the status of a project it’s clear that it’ll happen when it happens and calling them can easily mean that the phone sits on the counter while the parents see what’s happening as the kids actually do the work.
Meanwhile, while the phone’s on the counter you can hear all of what’s going on including them shouting to one another to determine what the status of your project is - of course now the phone’s busy when someone else calls.
I came across a new vendor in town for the same type of product and almost immediately fired the old one.
This new vendor uses text messaging and has the ability to leave a voice mail if they’re already on the phone. I can send an email and it’s not to an @yahoo.com email address so I’m in danger of being hacked. I can share original files via Google Docs or Dropbox and they actually know how to download them the first time.
Honestly it was so easy firing the old provider but I actually called them and told them all the reasons they were being fired. Bad service, antiquated ways of doing business, not providing project updates or accurate estimates. Their response was highly impolite and included “well we’ve always done it this way and we’re busier than we want to be.” For now.
This isn’t necessarily about technology, but staying current with ways your customers are looking to do business with you.
For example, I can’t believe the businesses I see that still don’t take credit cards. Sure, they’re few and far between but come on already. In fact, there are even businesses that don’t take cash any longer.
This week I talked to a young lady who hated Facebook so her wedding business wasn’t there. I feel this is a big mistake too. You don’t have to get involved with all the drama that’s there to take advantage of the platform.
I keep bringing up the resort I owned and how, when I bought it, the first thing I did was get rid of those giant books that the reservations were being kept in and implemented a web-based reservations system that allowed people to reserve rooms on their schedule, not mine. Funny thing - a lot of people made reservations long after our office was closed and the number of reservations made went way up.
We didn’t abandon those who still preferred to call in their reservations at all - the old ways were still fully supported and there were those who did prefer talking to someone. But we also made it possible to accommodate those who preferred doing things the way they liked.
There are lots of opportunities nowadays to do things differently without losing support for the old ways. For example, a friend of mine in the restaurant business said that, when he started offering delivery through the various restaurant delivery services such as Uber Eats and the like, his restaurant did incrementally more business.
Again, you can still go into his restaurant, sit down and have a server take your order and then even pay with cash, if you so choose. But now he’s able to accommodate the newer ways that some customers prefer. The bottom line is that his business is up significantly. He’s offering the customers choices in how they would like to do business with him and being where they want to be.
Doing things based on customer wants and needs and accommodating customers how they would like to to business with you is something not every business is very good at.
Imagine working at Disneyland and listening to those same songs over and over and over again. The people at Disneyland probably are so sick of those songs that they never ever want to hear them again. But the customers love them because it ties in the entire experience such that it adds to the magic. Disney knows that tailoring the experience to the customers is the magic formula to making the guests happy.
Are you in all the places your customers are looking and do you do business on their terms? This is not necessarily about technology, either. What can you do to make your customers’ experience with your business significantly better starting today?