Why this is important to your tribe of customers.
Just the other day I was driving to a meeting and had a small window of time to stop and get a coffee. I wasn’t in my neck of the woods and so I got onto Google Maps and looked for the nearest café, saw it was open, and made a quick detour.
When I arrived, the sign on the door clearly stated open (matching the hours on their Google My Business page). However to my dismay, the door was locked, the lights were off, and no one was there. Grrrr…
Seriously annoyed, without a coffee, and now tight for time, I hurried back to my car and drove on. When I arrived at my meeting I apologised and grumbled about the closed café. My client rolled their eyes and said, “Yeah, I know the one, they are so unreliable there. It’s great coffee but I don’t go anymore as they are so hit and miss.”
On my way home this got me thinking about the direct impact of this experience, a repeat one from what I quickly understood, has had on this business.
The thing is there is nothing more frustrating in life, in business, or as a customer, than when someone makes an empty promise, is un-reliable, or gets their timing wrong. By this I mean that they say they are going to do something and then don’t, make a claim and then don’t deliver, declare they are open and are in fact closed.
It’s annoying, it’s inconvenient, it’s disappointing, and most of the time it means you won’t go back a second time.
When businesses do this, in a big or small way, it’s a disaster for them. They not only lose this customer, but they leave such a bad taste in their mouth that their negative feedback and bad word of mouth will likely ensure that this person’s community will also be lost to them.
On the other hand, if you are reliable, communicate in a timely way, with the right message and uphold your end of the bargain, time and time again, this person will repeat buy from you and then go out and market your business for free with positive word of mouth and referral.
The bottom line is:
- It’s bad business to be unreliable or to have bad timing.
- It’s good business to be reliable and have good timing.
It’s fairly simple but so many businesses get it wrong and fail as a result.
Here are some tips to make sure you get it right.
Customers have expectations – make sure you meet them
Depending on your marketing and product mix, your customers will have certain expectations of your product, service or business. These expectations will differ slightly for each individual and will also be influenced by pricing, communication, messaging, location, and past experience to name a few. However, the key to a successful, positive and ongoing relationship with each member of your tribe, and to enlist their support in growing your community, is to meet these expectations, every time. It is even better practice to exceed them if possible. This is where reliability comes fully into play. If you say you are going to be open, be open. If you say that your socks are warm, make sure they are. If you say that you will deliver within a week, make that timeframe. I could go on but you get my drift. If you are reliable, you will meet expectations and your customers will trust you and your claims. Trust is everything in today’s relationship marketing world.
Be there, or be square
This point mainly applies to service and retail business with a bricks and mortar aspect to their trade. Its good business practice to employ a regular routine of business hours, opening times, or locations – and then stick to it like your life depends on it.
Be open when you say you are going to be open – don’t close an hour early because business is slow or open an hour late because you felt like a morning off.
If you attend markets, or have a moving trade location – make this information available and then stick to it. Make sure your customers know where you will be and when, and then be there.
Make sure that you can manage and commit to this schedule – and if for some reason it changes or you can’t get there for some unforeseeable reason – make sure you communicate this loudly, broadly and in-advance so as to let people know.
Understand your tribe and catch them when it’s best…for them!
Timing is incredibly important to the success of sales in your business. If you can understand when your customers are looking for your business, you can make sure that you communicate with them at this time, provide what they need then, and give them (and yourself) the very best chance of meeting their needs and making a successful sale.
You may have a number of customer segments that have different timing windows, and slightly different needs. Understanding this, and actively catering to it, will also increase your success and efficiencies.
Do not try and bend your customer’s schedules around what is best for you, instead fit your schedule around them. This is intelligent timing, and as they say – timing is everything!
Deliver – on time and always in full
It doesn’t matter what business you are in, make sure you meet the timelines and deadlines you set. If you say it’s going to take a week to deliver your product, make sure its there within a week. If you say you are going to provide a tonne of wood at between 8.30am – 10am on Wednesday – make sure you do (both timing and quantity). If you are contracted to write ten blogs per month by a certain date, meet the deadline.
Meeting deadlines on time and in full is important as it shows you are reliable. This will create trust, trust promotes repeat business, repeat business is money for jam!
The good news here is you can set the deadline and timeframes to make sure they are achievable within your business framework. But once you so this try hard never to miss them. If something comes up, and it’s unavoidable that you will not be able to keep your end of the bargain, communicate this as soon as possible and provide a reason why, and then set a new timeframe that you can achieve. It can sometimes help to remove any negativity by offering some form of compensation for your tardiness. Customers will 99% of the time understand and appreciate your honesty.
In life, as it is in business, reliability and timing are the core of every successful functioning relationship and the basis of trust. Without it, there is only frustration, leading to failure. It’s simple, make sure you get it right as much as possible!