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Friday, March 16, 2007

Patronize your customers

In business, it is extremely important to patronize our customers by using their products and services wherever possible. But this basic requirement is often overlooked because of the other factors like workload, pressure etc.

This post gives some examples how, where and why you should gain and retain customer goodwill by using their products or services wherever whenever possible.

Note: All company names used in this post are property of respective companies and are used here only as an illustration and no actual reference or implication is meant.

1. Motorola is your customer and during a meeting with Motorola team, you keep your latest NOKIA phone on the table expecting everyone to see and admire it

2. You have a great business proposal to FedEx and you ship the proposal by DHL

3. You give a beautiful presentation to Jet Airways executives and later in the day your assistant submits Kingfisher boarding passes (Assume they have offered to reimburse your travel expense and you took Kingfisher flight to go to their place) to Jet for reimbursement.

4. You meet a Dell executive at a conference and in the middle of the conversation you start explaining the features of your latest HP notebook

As you might have noticed, in all above cases, you were found using a rival product or service in front of your customer. This is a very very bad practice for which your client will never forgive you.

Now don’t give excuses like:
I just asked our office travel department to book a flight; I don’t have a control on what flight they book,
or
I just gave the proposal to the mail desk, I don’t know with which courier company they have tie up with.

Even if it takes some extra effort (like telling people at mail room to send it only using FedEx) some additional inconvenience (waiting for a flight etc) please bear that and ensure that you use services of your clients only.

In today’s world of cut throat competition, anyone can offer the service we’re offering and take away our business. How we can differentiate ourselves is by showing a genuine interest in our customers business. If you’re sending your resume to Microsoft, you better create a MSN email ID and give that as contact information, instead of giving a gmail or yahoo ID. Because giving gmail ID to Microsoft indicates you’re not interested in using Mircosoft’s product and services. So when you don’t have that primary interest why would they take you seriously? Same with other examples given above.

Exceptions:

There’ll be situations where it is not feasible to use your customer’s product/service. For example, just to meet a BMW executive you can’t buy a BMW car. In such cases ensure that you don’t use product or service of a company your customer perceives as a threat or competition to his business (like if you don’t have BMW car to meet BMW officials fine, at least don’t go in Mercedes. Use some less expensive cars)

To be successful in business you may have to fake an interest as well at times, but be extremely cautious. Any businessman worth his name will be smart enough to detect that you’re faking an interest. This will backfire heavily.

Also don’t hesitate to give constructive criticisms. People are open to it. But when you make a negative comment, always be sure to provide a solution/remedy/suggestion. Like: “My wife had trouble de frosting our LG refrigerator the other day…Will it not be a better idea to add additional instructions in owner’s manual?” You’re highlighting a problem as well as proposing a solution. This is precisely how you grow in a business.

1 comments :

Home Based Travel Business said...

It would be a real malpractice to want to fake an interest in order to please a potential customer. There are other techniques available to use.
I particularly like what you say about the sensitivity of criticism. Giving a constructive criticism is beneficial to those who receive it: it is the kind of feedback any entrepreneur wants to have. But, through my own experience within homebasedtravelbusiness, I know for sure that negative comments - even without suggesting solutions - have also their place in helping to improve the business. The business owner has then to work on them and ask himself why such comment appears and how to avoid it in the future.