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More on Getting to Know Your Customers

Comments from Sarah and Susan both pointed to the key challenge in Getting to Know Your Customers. Knowing when your interaction with customers is welcome and when it is unwelcome, intrusive and irritating. The key is polished customer intuition.

In his last column for Fast Company magazine, Seth Godin addresses issues of trust by comparing the actions of marketers to those of friends and family:

What would happen if your friends and colleagues treated you the way marketers do?

What if your spouse sold your personal information to anyone who would pay for it? If your boss promised you miraculous changes and then failed to deliver? If your co-workers refused to talk to you unless you spent half an hour on hold first?

He continues:

Why do we hate marketers so much?

We don’t just hate them. We ignore them. We distrust them. In fact, when a marketer actually keeps his promise to us, we’re so surprised we tell everyone we know.

He's right isn't he? Even as professional marketers we cringe when we are personally disrespected by short sighted marketers interested more in a sales transaction than building a lasting B2B relationship. And then he nails it:
Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. We substituted a new set of ethics, one built around “buyer beware” and the letter of the law. Marketers, in order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, decided to see what they could get away with instead of what they could deliver.
That's significant: Somewhere along the way, marketers stopped acting like real people. That's a huge clue in developing your customer intuition.

If you act like a real person and use your people skills to intuit the mood and receptivity of your customers on an ongoing basis. If customers don't return your phone calls and emails it's time to reevaluate what the possible reasons may be. Chances are it's one of three things:

Wrong Communication Style - You may be trying to get a response on the wrong channel. You may be leaving voicemail messages when you should be sending email messages or vice versa.

Information Free Communication - You may not be providing enough actionable information in your communication. You aren't helping busy people if you leave messages with no content. "Call me…" or "Just touching base to see if you have any questions." Doesn't help people. Contrary to what people request leaving just your name and number doesn't help them decide to return your call. Do you have personal friends who do this? "Hi, John, it's Jane. Call me. Bye." What she didn't say is that she's calling to see if you want to go to the movies in one hour. Without that information John might wait until tomorrow to call her back and miss the opportunity. Business people do the same thing by not offering new relevant information in communicating with customers. "Jill, this is Jack Hill. I have a new idea about how our product can help you with your xyz challenge. Please call me." vs. "Jill, it's Jack Hill. Please call me."

Not Interested - Your people skills and intuition should clue you in when someone isn't responding because they aren't interested. If you are doing the first two correctly and still no response it's time to move on. Build relationships where you can and move on when a prospect isn't interested.
These are basic relational intuition principles.

If you enter relationships looking to advance the interests of the other party then they will welcome your communication. If you provide them with a constant flow of valuable ideas, referrals, recommendations, ideas, connections and appreciation people will respond and welcome your efforts to build a mutually beneficial B2B relationship.

So before you Connect with your next customer ask yourself "What's in it for them?" What do you have to offer them. How are you earning their attention. If you have nothing for them or you only need something from them skip the connection. You risk wasting your customers time. Find a way to add value to their life and they'll welcome hearing from you.

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September 21, 2004 in award winning newsletter, Blog Outsourcing, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Community, Business newsletter | Permalink

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