Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Are you Referable?

As I help my clients with building not only a business development program (new revenue) but a retention program, I am struck by the concept "are you referable?" After all the best way to get new business is to work referrals, but that asks us to assume that we are worth referring. Is that always true?

I recently sat in on a meeting to help hire an administrator for our school. As the parents sat in a circle grilling (interviewing) the candidate, it became very clear that there was a clear sense of unhappiness amongst the ranks. I am relatively new to the school so I had not formed an official opinion one way or the other. My needs are being met. However, my kids are young, still in the pre-school and lower-school. Clearly it becomes more critical as they move their way up the school system. So I started to hear the rumblings of unsettled and unheard parents. What struck me came from a marketing standpoint. Retention was an issue. And clearly it was not being addressed to the satisfaction of the parents. So I asked myself the question, if we cannot retain our families, how are we going to get referrals.

Even in a school environment, customer service is critical. In fact, it is the most important thing. Yes, the kids getting a superior education is important. Yet if we don't treat the families being served by the school with respect (which include the parents and kids), the school cannot expect to grow.

This is a good lesson to learn as I help my commercial clients to take care of their customers before they are asking to be taken care of. When you do that, the business will come.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sharing the Love - Love of Customers!!!

Have you ever thought of doing something special for your customers? After all it is Valentine's Day and we love our customers, right? So try something different to stand out from the crowd. Take your top 20% and send them chocolate and tell them how much you appreciate their business. If there is a gatekeeper you have been trying to get past, send her a stuffed bear holding a heart and say "I've been trying to win you over, Happy Valentine's Day." Use this time to think outside the box.