Customers that feel abused from nickel and diming practices might do business with you once and only once. Stringing together bad profit one-night stands with customers is sure to come back to haunt your business and lead to unprofitable relationships which will undermine the long-term success of your business.
Retail operators know better than anyone that the people you hire are the most important part of your business. Your competitors can replicate your products and programs but they cannot replicate your people. It’s your people who live and breathe your company culture.
The following story is real. It was implemented in the Summer of 2001 in all North American Starbucks stores and was widely credited as a hallmark customer interaction program that is still talked about today as an example of a great customer experience program.
A hallmark of the Brand Autopsy blog has been taking offbeat sources and connecting the dots back to business. In March of 2004 I connected the dots between the business practices of drug dealers to activities we in the legitimate game of business should be emulating.
Scott Adams didn’t worry about trying to make the Dilbert cartoon successful by making the indifferent reader passionate about Dilbert. Instead, he relied on Dilbert succeeding by fueling the passions of those most passionate about all things Dilbert.
Jeff Bezos is right, there are two kinds of companies: those that find ways to raise prices and those that work to lower prices. Both ways can fuel success but many times businesses look at raising prices as a last resort to drive sales.
A few years ago I was on a panel conference where a social media expert us asked how businesses can get closer to customers. Everyone on the panel said something about leveraging Facebook and Twitter to engage with customers on a deeper, more meaningful level. As I fought back the vomit ascending up my throat I interjected, “How about picking up the phone? How about actually talking with customers voice-to-voice and better yet, face-to-face?”
Late last year I stumbled upon a thought-provoking ebook from Michael Schrage that has upended how I look at business innovation. Michael is a research fellow at the MIT Sloan School Center for Digital Business. His ebook attempts to redefine how companies should approach innovation by focusing on this question: Who do you want your customers to become?
Years ago I wrote about how businesses “chop down” their products to maintain/grow profits. I used a scene from AMERICAN GANGSTER to illustrate this point. It’s the scene where Frank Lucas confronts Nicky Barnes for chopping down his “Blue Magic” dope in order to make more money. The current Maker’s Mark brand dilution hullabaloo makes this old post, new again.
Brands desperately want people to fall in love with them in hopes they become customers for life. However, brands may be approaching finding love from the wrong end of the love chain.