There are two ways of thinking about customers: as transactions and as relationships. If you don’t know which category you put your customers into, all you have to do is ask your customers, because the way you treat them is a direct reflection of which stance you take.
They can tell whether you think of them as relationships or transactions just by looking at by how you serve them. And here’s why that matters…
Transactions Don’t Create Connection & Lasting Impressions
When you think of your customers as mere transactions, you do your job, take what’s owed you, and leave. In your mind, you’ve done what was required or asked of you, and that’s the extent of things. There’s no need to go above and beyond. No need to follow-up. No need to make sure the customer is 100% satisfied. The end of the transaction is the end of the relationship.
What’s the harm in this thinking? Well, for one, you’re not likely to provide the high level of service you’re capable of providing or look for ways to add value for your customer. Because when it’s just a transaction, not a relationship, you simply won’t care as much as you could.
Sure, you might provide adequate service, but you’re not going to go out of your way to provide memorable service. You’re not going to look for additional ways to serve your customers or make their lives better. You’re just going to do the job and leave.
The problem is: Engaging in transactional thinking is not how you build a loyal customer base. And when loyalty is absent, every need for service starts back in Google or some other search engine.
More and more, we see Google infiltrating organic results with Paid Ads, Yelp filtering out legitimate reviews, and HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, Google, Yelp, and other companies trying to get a piece of the service pie by taking a cut of business in exchange for putting your name out there in front of searchers.
- Do you really want to have to rely heavily on search engines and paid services to keep business coming in? Hellllll, no! You want to know you’ll have business coming in, regardless of how many algorithm changes there are or how big your competitors’ ad budgets are.
- Do you really want the customers you’ve marketed to, invested in, and served to go right back to the search box the next time they need the services you provide? Of course not. It costs 7 to 10x more to attract new customers than it does to retain customers, which means, you want those customers to keep coming back to you. But if you’ve given them no reason to remain loyal to you, they’re just as likely to use a competitor as they are to call you the next time they need service.
When you think of your customers as transactions, they feel it, and they think of you and the service you provide as mere transactions as well – which means you’re just one ship in a sea of competitors. In other words, when they’re just a transaction, so are you. And that means you’ve given your customers a reason to make their hiring decisions solely based on price.
The bottom line: With transactional thinking, you’re cheating yourself and your customers. At the end of the day, you’re left with a slew of transactions, not a slew of customers.
Relationships Create Value
On the other hand: when you think of your customers as relationships, it changes everything.
You’re suddenly considering them as people and looking for ways to provide exemplary service that goes above and beyond meeting their needs. You’re connecting with them, following up with them, asking them how their customer experience was, and letting them know you truly care about the way they feel at the end of the service.
You’re always looking for ways to add value. And you’re letting your customers know that you appreciate the opportunity to serve them; that your relationships with them are important and valuable to you.
And here’s the thing: When a customer feels like a valued relationship as opposed to a meaningless transaction, they’re not as likely to go out and start fresh with someone new the next time they need your services. They’ve already got a guy for that. They’ve already found a company that’s 100% capable of meeting their needs and caring for them.
When you have an established relationship with someone and know they value you and will treat you right, why go back to Google to start a new search and possibly be burned by a competitor? You wouldn’t, and your customers won’t. It’s not worth it.
So take some time to think about which category you put your customers in. If you’ve been thinking of your customers as transactions to complete as opposed to relationships to build and nurture, it’s time to make a shift — for your sake, your customers’ sakes, and your business’s sake.
No matter how prominent your ads are on Facebook or how stunning your website is, no one wants to do business with a service company that isn’t all that committed to serving people. So, why are you obsessing over the ROI (Return on Investment) of your social media efforts, campaigns, and Ads, and constantly checking your rankings instead of doing a little internal work?
If you want truly measurable returns that will exceed your expectations, develop true customer loyalty, and keep business steady, it’s time to focus on the service you’re providing and the value you’re *actually* offering your customers.
ROS = More Business Without Additional Marketing Costs
Sure ROI matters, but in the service world, ROS (Return on Service) is where it’s at. Why? Because it leads to more business, without a bigger investment in marketing and advertising.
Think about it: there are so many service businesses out there, and unless you’re incredibly lucky, chances are, you’re in an oversaturated market full of competitors. While marketing efforts, a big budget, strategic moves, and retention tools and techniques can help you stand out among competitors, there’s one thing (that you have total control over) that can make all the difference in the world: your service.
These days, it seems anyone can smack a sign on a truck and drive around town saying they’re the best, most qualified service provider in their local market. But not everyone has the service to back that up. When you can back up your claims and build your reputation by providing an excellent customer experience, you get some pretty fantastic returns.
Because let’s face it: word-of-mouth and referrals are still the best methods of marketing. Plus, they’re (kinda) free.
So give your customers a reason to shout your company name from the roof tops. Commit to providing the best possible service, each and every time. When you do, your customers will do a lot of marketing for you, and when they need your services again, they won’t even think to Google another company or go with a cheaper price. That’s what ROS is all about.
What Can You Do to Boost Your ROS?
Here are some ways you can really wow your customers and ensure unbeatable service and higher ROS:
#1 Go the extra mile. You know there are competitors out there that can perform the same work you’re performing. So what can you offer above and beyond that service? Take the time on each and every service call to look for ways in which you can make the customer’s experience even better. Whether that means wearing booties and laying drop cloths or taking the time to listen to the customer and really hear them, if you open your eyes, there are so many little ways to make your services memorable and remarkable.
#2 Hire service-oriented employees and make sure they’re happy. Think carefully about each new hire you bring into your company. Are they caring, friendly, understanding? If your employees don’t have a heart for service, they shouldn’t be in the service business. After all, each interaction your employees have with your customers sends out a brand message, and you want to ensure that your customers are receiving consistent and caring messages. Make sure each employee has the knowledge, heart, and scripts to send out the message you intend your customers to receive.
#3 Deliver on your word. Are you promising your customers one thing and delivering another? That’s the fastest way to send customers running. If you pride yourself on being the cleanest and most respectful chimney sweep in town, but show up to a house covered in soot, you’ve set one expectation and delivered something far different. Stand by your word! If your customers receive consistent service that meets their needs and speaks to what’s important to them, they won’t consider working with anyone else.
#4 Don’t be right. Do right. We have a saying that goes around here at Spark Marketer: “Do you want to be right or do you want to win?” Sometimes your customer is “in the wrong.” Maybe they misunderstood a recommendation your techs made and blasted your company on Yelp for no good reason. It sucks, but it’s ok. Approach that customer with a little grace and a little empathy and take the time to make it right. Educate them on why your techs recommended the work they recommended, and seek out true understanding and harmony. Let them know you’d like to make things right, and that you value their satisfaction. You may have to eat a little humble pie, but in the end, you’ll have a happier, more loyal customer. And that is a big win.
Don’t Take It Personally
So, you’ve committed yourself to providing the best value and the highest quality, but you’ve still lost out to a lower bid. Unfortunately, even though quality may mean the world to you (and it should), it may not be the most important thing to every potential customer. Don’t take it personally! If you’re providing true value, honest estimates, and the best possible service, when you get turned down, you can still walk away with pride.
That said, it’s your responsibility to educate your customers and let them know that, while there is more than one way to do something, you do things the right way. Take the time to explain to them what that looks like and why it matters. To some, like contractors focused on flipping houses as swiftly and inexpensively as possible, doing things “the right way” may not be all that important to them. Those aren’t the customers for you.
Hold yourself to higher standards, make it obvious to those that do business with you or are considering doing business with you, and keep on trucking. You’ll develop a reputation that will do a lot of your marketing for you and have you reaping big returns.