Stimulus Package for Service

Beverly Inman-Ebel

In today's economic climate, cost is not the only deciding factor for purchases. Businesses do not just do business with another business; rather people in that business make purchases from people who provide excellent service. Service is the people connector and something that you can affect.

How can you create your own stimulus package for service? Take the word "service" and make the word an acronym to make you stand apart from the crowd. TLC offers the following suggestions: 

S stands for speed and simplicity. In this age of instant gratification, giving service quickly and making purchasing from your company easy can make the difference. Several years ago, one of TLC's significant customers told us they loved our products and service, yet our billing process was complicated and took too much time for them to approve the invoices. TLC immediately simplified the billing process to allow this customer and others to spend less time in the approval process. TLC used to tell prospects that we needed three weeks from the time of decision to allow us to create the program for them. some needs are more urgent, so TLC changed our process in order to meet those needs. In Vincent's article this week, he mentioned our creation of Season Tickets, a program that brings affordable training to multiple companies at the same time. Customers mentioned that they wanted to be able to make individual purchases online, so TLC created more simple order forms on our electronic store at What can you do to make your service faster and easier? Look at your service from the customer's perspective. Be willing to change.

E stands for examination. Take the time to examine needs of your customers. When you understand the "why" of their purchasing, it is easy to find the what and how. This knowledge comes when you listen more than you talk. Listen to what they are both saying and not saying. The days of going into the sales call with presentations are past. This is especially true when you have been communicating with your contact and now you have an opportunity to meet with the decision maker. Never assume you know enough to understand why this decision maker will decide to hire your company or not. Ask and listen carefully to the answer. Examination requires unrelenting focus.

R stands for repetition. Providing good service the first time helps you to be able to provide future service. Stay in contact with the customer throughout the service and delivery. Regular connectivity will alert you to new needs as they arise. Selling to a satisfied customer is much easier than finding a new one. It does require consistent work though. Keep "upping" your game. Treat old customers as though they were your bread and butter because they are. TLC has found that five consistent customers are better than one big one. The difference is continuing to meet their needs and asking for repeat business.

V stands for value. Your customers need to see the value in the service you provide. Never assume they perceive the value. Ask them. Surveying your current customers helps you to continue to improve. If you are close to your customers, sometimes it is helpful to involve a third party to determine areas that can be improved. Your customer who likes you may be more willing to discuss mild dissatisfactions with this third party than saying something that might affect their relationship with you. Be sure to follow up on the information you receive. It doesn't do any good to ask if you are not willing to change. It actually can harm because the customer may likely expect improvement since they took their time to share concerns.

I stands for incentives. In tough economic times, it can help to give customers a reason to purchase now from you. Discounts are not the only way to give incentives, although if providing more service or products to the same customer is a cost savings for your company, that savings can certainly be passed along. Create a list of priority customers even if all of your customers are on the list. With each purcahse, give a benefit. On eincentive that TLC uses is to offer to provide the service now and spread the payments into several months or quarters for those companies who have monthly or quarterly budget limitations.

C stands for creating a niche. Identifying your target market and spend 80% of your time there. Look at where you have been the most successful and profitable. Compare yourself with your competition. What sets you apart? A niche in a small market can be more beneficial than trying to be everything to everyone. TLC has a client who works with improving sales in small individually owned optometrist's offices. While she could expand to helping chiropractors as well, she has built a reputation on her targeted market. What niche can you create for you and your company?

E stands for the extra you are willing to go. When push comes to shove, doing the small extra things can make a difference. TLC has created some add-on services that cost us in time development, yet the cost of delivery of those services is minimal. That little extra, along with others such as this newsletter, provides more after-the-sale service to our clients. What extra can you give?

Service: Speed and simplicity, Examination, Repetition, Value, Incentives, Creating a niche, and Extra add-ons can make the difference for you and your company. Create your own stimulus package for service. TLC would love to hear about what works for you. We'll pass it along with your permission.

Beverly Inman-Ebel is founder and CEO of TLC, Talk Listen Communicate, LLC
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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