Dec 22 2008

Reconnect With Customers At Grass-Roots

One of the 27 million


auto industry experts


quoted this week


. . . strongly recommends that as “The Big 3” hustle to try reinventing  themselves (assuming they’ve not become too gargantuan and convoluted), that dealerships should stop sounding so desperate, and start reconnecting with customers at a grass-roots level. 

     Good advice.  In fact, this is good advice right now for any and all businesses. 

     A December 2008 Corporate Communicator white paper published by addresses what Bon Mot Communications refers to as “the low trust problem” in business today. 

     “Low trust” says this eloquently crafted document is rooted in the rise of irresponsibility that’s inherent in the delirious growth of social media networks, fueled by public “scandals and betrayals” in the midst of a global financial crisis, then layered onto “unprecedented demand for transparency.”

     What this thinking suggests to me, for business owners and managers, entrepreneurs, and professional practice principals, is that the time to choose to rise to the top is now!

     Customer faith and loyalty flies directly out of the kinds of industry and business leadership that fosters ongoing positive performances, that engages and accommodates customer bases, and that caters to and supports customer communities in clear and meaningful ways. 

     An old business graduate school professor of mine called it “the proof of the pudding.” 

     Like the famous commercial and cinema requests “Where’s the beef?” and “Show me the money!” (except with much greater consequence), uncovering the proof of the pudding means digging a whole lot deeper than mission and vision statements, deeper than promises and PR sound-bites. 

     It means demonstrating –again and again– a total commitment to cultivating your grass roots by delighting every single customer (including those you dislike and those who act wronged when they’re not) with every single encounter, every single day. 

     Hey, nobody said business success was easy to achieve and maintain.  Nine of eleven businesses fail in the first five years, mostly for lack of management skills, which include the ability to exceed customer expectations.   

     If you’re thinking this means lessons can be learned from customer-dedicated “Mom and Pop” approaches to business, you’re right! 

     If the small local grocery store doesn’t consistently provide customers with a little something extra –as the classic Bob Farell customer service training film, “Give ‘Em The Pickle” suggests– the small local grocery store will be gobbled up by giant supermarkets with bigger selections and lower prices. 

     And big companies that don’t give a little something extra earn low trust! 

     This coming week is the perfect time to take inventory of the attitude your business projects to others, and decide what you can do to start building or re-building or shoring up your own consumer confidence index.  It is, after all, all about sales, and customers who trust you because of your deeds will deliver your sales!  halalpiar 

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