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Better Business Idea #19

Deliver Your Promise

© 1998 by Michael C. Gray

November 25, 1998

It seems it should go without saying that you should deliver on your promises to your customers.

How many times have you bought clothing by mail order and been disappointed with shabby quality or poor fit? How many times have you bought the "latest gadget" and found it didn't do what it was supposed to, or it broke two weeks after you bought it?

How many times have you called a business and been lost in "voice mail hell"? How many times, when a "real person" answered the line, were you treated discourteously, put "on hold" forever, or discovered this person can't or won't help you?

Although guarantees are a good marketing tool, a customer doesn't really want a guarantee. The customer wants a product or service that works reliably.

According to Jan Carlzen, former chief executive officer of Scandinavian Airlines and author of Moments of Truth, each time a customer comes in contact with an employee, product, or service of the company is a Moment of Truth. The customer forms a "yes" or "no" image of your company from each experience. When the customer has good experiences with your company, he or she is much more likely to continue being a customer and to recommend your business to others. When the customer has a bad experience with your company, you probably lose that customer to a competitor (and possibly their friends as well).

As the architect of your business, you need to examine the points of contact with the customer and ensure the customer has a good experience every time! (Including keeping the restrooms and the office or store clean and litter-free.) This will require an investment in training and process engineering to assure quality and to develop a culture of quality obsession. You also need to design systems to correct errors and get an unhappy customer on the road to being pleased/delighted with your business.

For example, at Walt Disney studios and Disneyland/Disney World, the company philosophy is that marketing and advertising for the company is the customer's experience at the theater or theme park.

Every employee needs to understand that he or she is an ambassador or representative for the organization. To the customer, the employee is the organization. And employees need to be empowered to deliver the promise of the organization and to delight the customer.

We know the most expensive way to market is to focus on new customer acquisition. Once you have the opportunity to do business with a customer, you flush all those acquisition costs down the toilet unless you deliver on your promise and build a relationship with that customer so he or she continues to do business with you again and again, and recommends your business to others.

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