Consumer confidence is critical
It’s great when your customers are confident you’ll deliver and trust your integrity and fairness. It’s even greater when they have so much confidence in you that they’re willing to refer potential customers to you, unsolicited, and willing to give a testimonial on your behalf, also unsolicited.
The higher the customers’ confidence level, the less resistance they have to doing more business with you, and the less likely they are to go shopping for price. Smart customers know delivery and ease of doing business, plus reliability and consistency, are more important than price.
If your customer doesn’t know that, find another customer.
The question is: How did that customer gain confidence in you? The bigger question is: How long did it take the customer to gain that confidence in you? But by far, the biggest question is: What do you do if you begin to lose the customer’s confidence?
It’s best to prevent confidence erosion in the first place. Based on experience, you know that gaining the customer’s confidence can take years. It takes bringing in order after order, offering service after service, exceeding the customer’s expectations, and being there when needed.
Losing the customer’s confidence takes much less time than building it; just a few bad experiences willsend the relationship down the drain. Again, good old experience tells you that after one or two “bad” episodes, confidence dips somewhere between eroded and gone. Customer confidence takes years to build but days to lose.
Somehow it just doesn’t seem fair. Why not see how many “confidence erosion factors” you and your company are guilty of. When your customers lose confidence, you committed one or more of the following infractions:
1. Late delivery (worse, late delivery without notification).
2. Partial delivery.
3. Wrong delivery.
4. Reduction in quality.
5. Reduction of service.
6. Poor accessibility to you in time of need.
7. Slow response to genuine needs.
8. Rude people in service or accounting, or both.
9. Failure to respond to a “fire drill” call in a manner the customer feels is excellent.
10. Broken promises (worse if lied about).
11. Inconsistent service actions and business practices.
12. Making excuses or blaming rather than providing answers.
12.5. The customer discovers your price is significantly higher than that of a competitor who, in the customer’s eyes, is offering “relatively” the same thing with “relatively” the same service in “relatively” the same time frame. You and your customer may have “relatively” different opinions about what is a high price and what is a fair price.
Your company needs to make a profit to survive. Often, this profit is the result of cutting costs, services or quality – a three-pronged formula for disaster over the long haul.
But let’s get back to confidence. If you don’t think you’re vulnerable and that the 12.5 confidence erosion factors don’t apply to you, stop reading. This only applies to people who have lost customers and don’t really know why, so they blame it on price, moan about it to all their superiors and then do nothing or very little, other than to further reduce the price, to win the customer back.
Losing a sale on price is not a problem, but a symptom. The truth is, the customer has more confidence in someone else delivering than in you. The bigger problem is determining what you did to cause that customer to go away. But the biggest problem by far is that if you do little or nothing about it, you’ll lose more customers.
Never break a promise or miss a delivery or fail to meet a deadline or change a plan without a proactive, in-advance, personal customer communication. In other words, talk to your customer.
An erosion in customer confidence also causes internal morale problems. Rebuilding trust and lost confidence takes time, and such efforts are always under suspicion or scrutiny.
Free GitBit: Confidence has a sister, and it’s part of a formula that wins sales and retains customers. It’s short and sweet. Want it? Go to www.gitomer.com; register if you’re a first-time user, and enter the word CONFIDENCE in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer, president of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer, can be reached by phone at (704) 333-112 or by e-mail at email@example.com.