How to Keep Customers Coming Back for More

Sparky aka the Ol' Lady

 

So I have dogs, two of them.  One is almost 13 years old aka the Ol’ Lady.  The other is 3 years old.

They are my family so when something isn’t right with them I’m like a worried parent.

Well the Ol’ Lady was having some problems so off to the veterinarian.

The Doc took some blood from the Ol’ Lady and promised to have results on Monday.

Of course after waiting all weekend, Monday came and no call.

So around 4:pm I called to check in.  The tech explained that the Doc was single-handed that day but they would leave her a message.  I waited.

The Doc tried to call but somehow I missed it.  She left a message letting me know she would call the next day but she never said anything about the results.  I, of course, took this as a bad sign.

I’m sitting in front of the TV trying to focus on whatever is on and kicking myself for missing the call when the phone starts ringing.

It’s 8:15pm and it’s the Doc.

Strategy #1 – The Late Night Call

So if you’ve taken my course on setting boundaries then you know that I’ve got established rules for when I take calls and when I don’t.  If you work from home you’ve got to establish these kinds of rules or you’ll always be “on”.

However, there are times when you’ll have to bend the rules and that is what the Doc did right.  She may do this all the time but let’s assume she was paying attention to her customer (me) who was pretty distraught.  If she were putting the individual customer first then she would have surmised that a call, no matter the time, would go a long way towards building customer loyalty.

It worked.  I told everyone I talked to the following few days that the Doc had called me after 8:pm to tell me what was going on.  Total win.

And here’s the thing… if you know your customers well because you’ve really narrowed your focus on targeting the right customers you’ll know why that call was important.

The thing to remember is that every customer is different even within the same target.  If you are listening and paying attention you begin to see what each customer needs.  If you have 10,000 regular customers it’s going to be a tough strategy but then you probably aren’t going to be providing individual-styled services.  But with 100 or 200 customers you can learn about them.

Some pet owners will be high strung like me and others won’t be.  For some, a call on the day promised would not have been important.  For others, like me, it was super important.

Get to know your customers/clients/prospects!

They will tell you what they need but you must be paying attention.

Back to the story…

After much discussion we determine the best thing to do for the Ol’ Lady is to schedule an ultrasound.

I drop her off a few mornings later for the ultrasound and just after lunch we meet with the Doc and pick up the Ol’ Lady.

The Doc meets with us to let us know what’s going on.  I’m already aware that the ultrasound test is about $500.  But then Doc mentions that while she was waiting for us to arrive she decides to do an x-ray.

Cha-ching…

I remember we’ve done one of those before… $150.

So we wait for the x-ray and go over the ultrasound results.  Once the x-ray is finished we review it and make a plan of action for the Ol’ Lady’s treatment.

Now, here’s where you’ve got to pay attention, we’re going to see two strategies at work.

Doc says she’s going to get the meds together along with a new diet food and she leaves.

The next person we see is the technician.  He brings food, med and an invoice.

He goes over the charges and asks if everything looks okay or if we have any questions.

The first thing I notice even before he says it, is that the x-ray charge is reversed.  He says that the Doc wanted to “take care of it for us”.

More importantly it is shown on the invoice as a charge and then below the charge is a line item showing a reversal.

He leaves to make a few changes to the invoice and returns with an updated invoice.  We look over it, looks good.  He takes the credit card and leaves again.

Now we haven’t left the examination room.  Everything is happening there.

Finally he returns with the final paperwork and we leave.

Strategy #2 – Leaving the Room

When the Doc left the room and said she’d get the meds handled she did one thing wrong but mostly it was the right thing to do.

Here’s what was right… letting the technician go over the invoice.

Why was this so important?

Simply because our emotional attachment to the technician was zero.  In fact, I don’t know that I’d ever met that particular technician before.  He was someone who was just dealing with the invoice, that’s it.

And, because the emotional attachment we have with Doc who is the person taking care of the Ol’ Lady is so much stronger it makes more sense that she isn’t the one talking money with us.

Here’s the reason, we have feelings.  We have feeling for the Doc because she is taking care of our pet which means if she’s dishing out numbers we will also have feelings about that too.  It’s messy.  If she separates herself from the money process then we continue to have good feelings for the Doc and no feelings about the money part.

Allowing your customer to separate processes is a great way to keep the good feelings where they need to be and remove emotional attachment from things that shouldn’t be emotional.

Like everyone I, too, have a budget so I want to know what things cost and what I’m paying for.  And I want to be able to ask questions if I need to.  We spotted a mistake on the invoice with regard to the price of one of the meds.  We had no “feeling” about telling the technician to check it.

The only “wrong” part in this process for me was not telling me that Doc was done with us – leaving and not coming back.  Now this is a common practice I’ve noticed among the medical community.  And I also get it.

You can’t hang out with one patient all day.

But I hate the feeling that they are leaving and will be coming back only to find that the next person you see is the guy with the bill.

It bothers me.  It might not bother everyone.

Here’s my personal deal with it… what if I have another question?

It’s something to consider when you decide what your customer/client check out process will be.  I personally stick with the entire check out process.  I have my own methods of changing the money focus but I like to be the one waving when a Porsche customer drives off.

Strategy #3 – Eating the X-ray

If you want to give your customer a discount it’s OK.  Really.  I advocate feeling good about what you charge, how you charge, when you charge and whether or not you charge.

Now feeling good means that you do charge regularly for what you do and at full price.  But from time to time if a customer is a “regular” or if you have a new client you want to “woo” then sometimes it makes sense to include a discount.

There’s a right way and a wrong way.

I learned this lesson early on and from time to time when I’m in a hurry and forget to do it I recognize that it truly does matter.  Doc got it right.

Always, always, always show the discount.  Always.

You can tell a customer 15 different ways that you’ve included a discount but if you don’t actually show it then it just doesn’t have any real sticking power.  Discounts should be sticky.  You want your customer/client to remember you extended the discount and you want them to remember how much the discount was.  It gives them something to talk about.

What would you rather have your customers say?

Yeah, my Vet gave me a great discount…

Or

Yeah, my Vet gave me a $150 discount…

It matters.

So when you do your invoicing or even in your sales copy include a full-price and then at check out when the customer/client pays show the discount.  I like number amounts better than % amounts.  They have more meaning.

The Red.Hot Way

Stepping it up and building your business requires thinking thoroughly about who your customers are and what they need.  It requires putting in place processes and procedures that help to separate the emotional from the non-emotional aspects of doing business for your customer/client.  Finally, it means that you must always be clear in a visual way.  Since our human default is the visual sense, capitalize on it and show your customers/clients exactly what they are getting it will be more memorable and create a much better testimonial when they begin to talk about you to others.

Until next time… keep it Red.Hot!

 

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7 Responses to How to Keep Customers Coming Back for More

  1. Christine Miller February 16, 2012 at 11:55 AM #

    What a compelling story Yolanda, with a powerful message for getting it right with customers. beautifully observed, and so true.

    It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently, having a manager or agent who handles the requests for my time and services, so I don’t get associated with the negotiating and details of the deals.

  2. Sarah Arrow February 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM #

    What a post Yolanda! Glad the ol’ lady is feeling better.

    Showing the discount is important, it reminds the customer they have been given a deal and and the reasons why.

  3. Yolanda Facio February 16, 2012 at 1:45 PM #

    Christine you are right on about separating the set up and negotiation from you by using a manager to do it. It keeps the focus on you and what you do best.

    Sarah, yes the Ol’ Lady is doing better! Thanks!

  4. Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana February 16, 2012 at 1:54 PM #

    This analogy shows better than any bullet list how to do customer service right. I learned a lot here, from making that call to eating the cost of the xray. I communicate with my clients at odd hours when it’s in doubt one of us will make the training session – the weather or illness, for example. I’d much rather be bothered at 5 a.m. than show up at 6 a.m. session with no client!

  5. Jennifer February 16, 2012 at 2:20 PM #

    Yolanda,

    What a great, compelling story. What great, compelling writing. What a great, compelling business message. Do you have any idea how often these 3 items occur at the same time? Right. Practically never. Of course, I’m a maven too…………….

  6. Mary C. Weaver, CSCS February 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM #

    I love how you articulated the importance of showing the discount. In the past I’ve done a lot of work for certain nonprofits to which I gave a generous discount. But I never indicated that on my invoices. Next time I give a discount (if I do), I’ll make sure it’s down in black and white.

    And I’m glad Sparky is better!

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