Apparently, juggernaut, NBC’s the Today Show is tanking. After decades of leading the ratings the show faltered and has been passed by it’s fiercest competitor Good Morning America. And it’s not just in the entertainment industry, there’s a lot of upheaval going on in all areas of the marketplace right now. We are seeing technology radically change entire industries affecting companies like the NY Times. Big box stores are applying intense price pressure on small, local businesses. And new customer expectations are changing how business is done. All sorts of once super-successful businesses are struggling trying to figure out how to regain their lead, or even a place, in these new times. With all these external pressures failure in not inevitable but changing the way you do business is from sales to marketing to customer service is critical.
What Customers Now Want from Sales
I am old enough to have gone on calls with sales people and watch them buy lunch for the customer and fill out an order form. No longer is this the case. Customers are looking for a real consultative process. In conversations with customers I’ve heard over and over they want someone who help them, guide them and give them information that is particular to their own needs. Since they’ve already done their homework on the internet they are no longer asking who are you and what you sell. They are wondering why do you do what you do, can you help me, can you answer this question that I haven’t been able to find an answer to and do I trust you?
The new sales call is less about showing slick presentations and more about asking customers smart questions and actively listening to their answers and stories to see if there is a fit for your knowledge and services with their unique needs. I just heard the term “listening loudly” because listening (and caring about your customers) is about the most important thing you can do.
What Customers Now Want from Marketing
The media buy used to be the holy grail of marketing. With enough ad impressions in particular geographic areas you could get distribution and sales of almost any product or service. Now of course, there’s to many media channels, too many ads and not enough customer attention. Most small and mid-sized companies can’t sustain an effective media buy. And since there’s so much to choose from customers are now looking toward the edges for companies who can provide personalized service, unique products and a brand or personality they can connect with.
So for many smaller companies marketing should be about listening to customers to find out what you can offer that’s helpful and different in the market. Once you’ve figured that out then move toward building connections with customers and maybe you will earn their attention.
What Customers Want from Customer Service
They want their problem solved. They want to be made whole. They don’t care about rules, policies or approvals – they want their issue taken care of now. Most big companies view the customer service department as a cost. Win by treating customer service like an extension of marketing. Delight customers who have a problem and you may have that customer for life.
There are a lot of new expectations around business. Particularly how sales, marketing and customer services is done.
Now that your cheese has moved*, what are you going to do about it?
*I borrowed this phrase from the book Who Moved My Cheese?