“A mounds bar is not a sprinkle. A Twizzler is not a sprinkle. A jolly rancher is not a sprinkle sir. Perhaps in Shangri-la they are, but not here!” ~ Apu Nahasapeemapetilon from “The Simpsons”
Who do you like to do business with?
Chances are they add value. If you like doing business with someone, and remain loyal to them, they provide something of value — to you. Not to their “customers,” to you personally.
Here, This Will Shut Them Up…
A 10% off coupon is a cop-out. It’s one of those things that have always been done, so companies keep on doing it. I’m still surprised by the small business folks who think it’s some kind of customer service cure-all.
The thing is, it’s not worth much. It does nothing to provide real value. No loyalty is going to come from a 10%-off coupon. I’ll just go to a competitor who offers a 15%-off coupon. That’s competing on price. If that’s all you’ve got, you’re in trouble.
Then there’s the new savior of the commoditized — consumer insights and customer relationship management (CRM). I find it interesting that both Cam Beck and I chose to highlight the same quote about becoming a commodity on our comments over at David Armano’s “Insights Fueling Ideas” post. It’s a big fear for many home-based entrepreneurs.
One glaring sign that you’re a commodity is competing on price. And no coupon, CRM, or other silver bullet is going to save you at that point.
Customers Are People
This is something that’s often forgotten. Customers are actual people. Like you. They have desires, and fears, and hopes, and families. They want many of the same things you want.
So instead of trying to provide value to “customers,” think of ways to provide value to “people.” You may think this is arguing semantics, but it’s not.
Do more than “manage relationships” and collect data to appease your customers’ demands.
Instead, exceed some actual people’s expectations. That’s how you develop a relationship.