"Doing business based on relationships, service, and trust, is just not as highly valued as it used to be."
"In today's economy it has become about contracts and pennies."
"The passion for service is gone."
"Willing to do what-ever-it-takes to serve the customer doesn't have the value it used to have."
Those are four quotes from the president of a distribution company given during an interview as the reason they shut down their business. I have some concerns about this. As bad as I hate to see anyone close down (because it can almost always be avoided) I think these reasons are pretty thin.
Let's do a little case study. Let's look at this from the customer's point of view.
Relationship: If you think relationships are not highly valued, try doing business without one. Just the opposite is true!
I am not going to pay a higher price because of our relationship, but you will get to keep my business if we have a good relationship and you don't take advantage of it. I mean that when your company has a special price on something and you don't offer it to me because you know I will buy it anyway, is that a relationship or are you just using me to pad your gross profit?
If a competitor comes in and offers me a lower price on something that you have been overcharging me on, is that taking a relationship seriously? It seems to me that a relationship is a two way street. I give you my business and you take care of me.
I have every competitor in the market calling on me begging for my business! Do you think I am going to turn them away while you are calling me on the phone for your order and they are bringing me samples, specials and ideas?
From a customer's point of view the relationship has to be stronger than ever before. It has to be sincere. It has to be beneficial for both of us. Trust: Integrity is another word for trust. Do these examples below make me trust you? You can fool some of the people some of the time, but trust is more important than ever. You have to earn it by telling the truth.
~Do these examples build trust?
~A pound cake is not really a pound.
~A foot long hot dog is only 10 inches.
~Many number 10 cans are not number 10’s.
~Shrimp baskets don’t have all the shrimp.
~Retailers put incorrect prices in their scanners.
~Product manipulation, product substitution and short weight are considered strategies.
~Intentional invoice over charges and mistakes are built into the system of many banks, credit card companies and mortgage companies.
~Water is injected in lobster tails to increase their weight.
~Products are in the market that are over breaded, over glazed and over pumped.
~Scallops are soaked in sodium-trypoly-phosphate to increase weight. 37 billion bottles of water are sold every year with much of it being simply tap water!
HONESTY ALWAYS WORKS BEST! The best sales person is always the one who bluntly tells the truth. It is not only impressive but it leaves a trail of trust behind. Not the best talker wins, it’s the most honest talker. The best approach to building customer trust is to deserve confidence.
Service: "What-ever-it-takes to serve the customer doesn't have the value it used to have!" Immediate, enthusiastic and energetic response to a customer request is more valued than ever.
The problem is sales people have become so dependent on technology that the secret of good customer service has disappeared! What does your voice mail sound like? If you are a president or vice president, call your own company and see what impression your customers are getting. Passion for service is more appreciated than it has ever been, because it is so rare!
"Dial 1 for shipping, dial 2 for warehouse, dial 3 for directions, dial 4 for credit, dial 5 for accounts payable!" Is that "what-ever-it-takes service?”
Here's the bottom line. Things are changing. FAST. And if you are not changing with them you know what will happen.
The solution? You have to do things the hard way - you have to go back to SELLING! You have to get back to making face to face contact (that's called service), bring your customers VALUE and some good reasons to TRUST you so you can build a good relationship.