Are you running after BSOs (Bright Shiny Objects) rather than sticking with the tried and true strategies that built your business? If your strategy revolves around your past customers, it still works; it just may need an update. There’s no need to change your strategy in midstream. I know customer service might sound boring to some of you, but great customer service still works. The words are the same but the stakes are higher and what passes as customer service is passé.
There was an interesting article in the New York Times about Miley Cyrus. (What We Talk About When We Talk About Miley, July 11, 2010). According to E-Poll Market Research, Miley’s appeal to her core group of customers, ages 13-17, has dropped from 45% to 24%. It seems that Miley is beginning a new chapter in her life. A seemingly nude photo of her with a short drape wrapped around her chest in Vanity Fair, a whirl around the stripper pole wearing bird wings and black ribbon corset now defines the new phenomenon known as Hannah Montana. The fans are mortified and leaving her for Selena Gomez and other role models more to their liking. They’re embarrassed.
Maybe this isn’t a bad move but the transition might have been a little smoother. The fans that Miley’s after may also have trouble viewing the new, all grown up 17 year old. Apparently Miley was seen in a video post on MTV giving a lap dance to a 44 year old director! The 17 year old isn’t legal to get into a bar to perform. The fans that built her business are leaving her in boat loads; can she replace them that fast? Could she have kept them, grown up with them?
Is she afraid she will get stale? Did someone tell her she needed to grow up; it wasn’t her customers.
Are you afraid your business is getting stale? If you’re having an ongoing dialog with them they will tell you what you need to do to stay on track. It seems that Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart, has been surveying their customers to figure out how they might help them. Many of their customers are small businesses who, according to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, have had trouble getting business loans. In fact only half were able to borrow last year compared to 90% in the mid 2000s.
In order to do this Sam’s Club must assess if the firms were rejected due to the overall caution of banks or due to their weak balance sheets and cash flow. Maybe the companies are not credit worthy.
There are several powerful incentives to spur Sam’s on. Companies with access to capital are more likely to buy products and service from Sam’s Club so the money carries very little risk. Again, finding what your customers need will help you evaluate your customer service.
Do you know what your customers need? Have you changed accordingly? Toys R Us are pushing their customers to ‘save with them’ for Christmas by offering 3% interest if they open a Christmas savings club with them. Like the old fashion Christmas Clubs of the past they are trying to make sure their customers have money to spend. Target is giving customers 5% off on all their purchases if they use the Target credit card.
Consider redefining your customer service with your customer’s help. What about your small business customers? What are you doing to help them stay in business?
Maybe Wal-Mart is redefining customer service?