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Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Do We Do Now?

The economic situation of 2009, with high unemployment, tight credit, and a rapidly changing regulatory climate has made selling to now tight-fisted customers that much harder.

How do managers lead their teams to not just survive these difficult times, but also increase their customer base? Below are some real world suggestions to come out ahead

Face it, we are working on mental overload. The work, government, and social environment is changing so fast that our ability to manage the possible outcomes is overwhelmed. Our customers are facing the same challenges and looking to reduce overall expenditures. This combination requires us to be indispensable to retain our customers. We figure out how to be indispensable by asking, watching, and doing. Cheap? No. 100% Free. Trade stocks for free on The Free Trading Community.

Asking customers about their level of satisfaction and what they really want is a great first step. Besides wanting products that are better, faster and cheaper, asking what they really want provides critical information. Maybe customers want your product found in more places. Maybe they want better customer service. Perhaps they just want to be recognized for their loyalty. Ask! While a fancy, expensive market survey may be nice, why not set up a blog or feedback area on your company's website and monitor the feedback. You will be surprised. Additionally, have customer facing employees ask at the conclusion of the customer meeting, preferably at the register, but also if the customer leaves without purchasing.

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Watching your customers and how they interact with the product is also important. Ask your employees how they use the product. If your product is a service, is your customer able to rapidly integrate your service into their life or business? Is there something you can do to make that integration better? If your product is difficult to use or consume, now is the time to fix it. Organic Flowers & Gourmet Gifts

As I mentioned above, the current world we live in is very different from what most of us know. We lack the ability to think our way out of this. What we should be doing is trying new ideas, little ones, cheap ones, and see what works. If we have asked and watched our customers, we should be able to come up with simple improvements. Here is a simple, but great example. I bought a TV stand. It came with great instructions and the components were clearly labeled. The hardware came in two bags, one for each major assembly. I was pleased and assembled the stand with ease. I recently bought another stand, by the same company. This time, they packaged the hardware for each step, and numbered the bags, so there was absolutely no guessing. This change in packaging, a cheap, easy, action has me talking about the company and recommending it. The company is Slam Brands.

While it may be impossible to predict interest rates and net present value calculations aren't really helping us make decisions, we can survive by asking, watching, and doing. If we ask our customers what they think, watch how they use our products, and take action on that data, we will create lasting customers and better products. We can also use the same technique with our employees.

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