"Your business will live or die, thrive or struggle, based on your ability to harness the power of your customers to drive new customers to grow your business."
Magnetic is defined by the good folks at Miriam-Webster Dictionary as “possessing an extraordinary power or ability to attract”. And there isn’t a business anywhere in the world that doesn’t dream of attracting customers as easily as steel pins to a magnet. In Magnetic: The Art of Attracting Business, Joe Calloway shares dozens of ideas – attitudes, strategies and tactics – to help businesses of all types improve their magnetism. The ideas and concepts are simple enough. The real work begins when you take steps to apply those ideas to your unique business context. Calloway is honest enough to warn readers that there is no one-size-fits-all template that this or any other book can slap on top of your business to make it successful. It’s up to you to figure out how to convert Calloway’s wisdom into the magnetic pull that will draw new customers to your business.
The first order of business, so to speak, is to focus squarely on the needs of your customers instead of your products and services or the administrative needs of your company. Make no mistake, in order to prosper companies need to get very good at what they do, however they must do so with the single-minded intent to better serve the customer, not to make things simple for their employees or to appease management. A satisfied customer is more than mere cash-flow for your business; they are the most powerful marketing tool in your promotional toolkit. Unless you fall short, that is.
You Reap What You Sow
"The single most important factor in the future success of your business is this: what your customers tell people about their experience with you. What this means to you is that creating positive experiences for your customers is the single most important thing you can do to grow your business."
It astounds me that there are business people today that simply don’t understand the importance of placing the customer at the centre of their decision-making to ensure they have a positive experience. I recently received lackluster service from a travel agent with a national organization when booking a group excursion. I was informed by a fellow traveler ‘not to expect prompt service because the agent had a large client base and was very busy’. Even though the trip was relatively last minute, my phone messages and emails were left unanswered for several days, until payment was due that is. Then I received multiple phone calls from the agent with the expectation that I drop everything I was doing to attend to her request for my credit card information. She not only lost my future business and those of my travel companions, she also lost any referrals we might have provided to our friends and colleagues. I have a hunch that she won’t have a large client base for very long if that is how she treats all her customers.
Farmers and gardeners understand that they will reap what they sow. Quality seeds and plants, regular watering and fertilizing, pruning and reasonable protection from harsh elements will ensure a stunning garden and a bountiful harvest. Smart business owners recognize that growing a business is similar to tending a garden or a farm. Investing time, energy and resources into satisfying each customer that expresses an interest in your product or service will produce a happy customer willing to do business with you again and a bumper crop of goodwill that will be shared with everyone in their network. Failure to cultivate the customer relationship may produce a single sale, but won’t yield a more bountiful harvest over time. You reap what you sow.
Identify Your Big Three
"What are the three rock solid statements about you that, if heard over and over again from lots of people by potential customers, would be likely to drive them to you like steel balls to a powerful magnet?"
Of course, no business can be all things to all people. Calloway suggests owners think hard about what they want their business to be known for and identify what they want people to be saying to others about their experience with you. Do you want people to rave about your product(s)? Your service? Your staff? Your prices? What specifically about those areas do you want people to be highlighting? The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to find ways to deliver just that to your customers. Still not sure? Try identifying the things you don’t want to be known for and then flipping that around to a more positive experience.
I’ve written about the power of three before – most people can easily recall and convey three ideas or concepts or messages. The same is true for customers. Calloway advises that once you’ve picked three core ‘what we want them to say’ statements, you need to focus your energy and attention on creating the customer experiences that would generate those types of comments. This requires you to identify another set of threes – the three things you must get right with each and every customer, each and every time, in order to inspire those rock solid testimonials. When you know those ‘big threes’, you simplify your decision-making. You (and your staff) know exactly what needs to be done to wow your customers and make it easier for them to pass along powerful word-of-mouth messages to others.
DNA – Do Not Apologize!
"It’s a powerful thing to have a ‘no stupid mistakes – no defects – no surprises’ policy that becomes part of the DNA of your team."
What? Do not apologize? How does that create exceptional customer service? Calloway asserts that businesses with a magnetic mindset need to aspire to this counter-intuitive way of thinking. It’s not that you actually won’t apologize to a customer if something goes amiss. It’s rooted in the premise that you won’t be apologizing to customers because you haven’t done anything that you need to apologize for!
When businesses are focused on delivering exceptional products, services and experiences to their customers, they work hard to ensure that nothing goes wrong. And if it does, they focus on making it right, over-the-top right with lightning speed! Making it right should include a brief, sincere apology but the apology is really secondary to the top priority of doing what it takes (and then some) to retain a satisfied customer and create a vocal ambassador for the business. Magnetic companies ensure every staff person that is hired has exceptional customer service DNA and does what it takes to ensure apologies become like dinosaurs – extinct!
Magnetic is a practical and down-to-earth exploration of how businesses and organizations of all kinds can attract new customers. It boils down to creating extraordinary experiences that existing customers can’t stop talking about. In an era where stories (good, bad and ugly) can go viral online virtually overnight, it makes good sense to refocus on the basics – delivering exceptional customer service day in and day out – so you never have to apologize and every customer you serve becomes your ‘not-so-secret’ marketing weapon.
How do you turn your customers into adoring fans of your business or organization? Have you ever been ‘wowed’ by a company? What made that experience exceptional?