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Are you telling customers what they really need to know? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Donald Cooper   

ImageThose of you who are familiar with my work know that I help owners and managers create an extraordinary business by doing the right thing extraordinarily well. How simple is that?

This past December my wife and I booked a cruise adventure to the Falkland Islands, around the bottom of South America and up the coast of Chile to Valparaiso.

We had a blast seeing penguins, fiords and glaciers. We also survived 100-foot seas and 120-mile-an-hour winds. For two days between the Falkland Islands and the Straights of Magellan the ship tossed, pitched and rolled as waves as high as a 10-storey building hit us every 20 seconds.

Furniture, food, art work and people were flying through the air. When we were able to be outdoors, the temperature was below freezing. What does this have to do with telling your customers what they need to know to make good decisions for them? Plenty.

At least 70% of the passengers on that ship should never have been sold that cruise. The passage between the bottom of South America and the Antarctic continent has been the most feared body of water on the planet for 350 years of human navigation. We had elderly people with canes, walkers, wheel chairs and electric scooters who should never have been on that ship and nothing in the cruise line's brochure or the travel agent's information warned folks that this itinerary was simply not suitable for people with mobility issues.

There was also no mention of the typical winds and temperature for the month of December in each port of call. I did the homework so we had long-johns, turtle necks, down vests, toques and mitts. But most folks brought shorts, flip-flops and a light windbreaker. After all, they were going "south".

It would have been so easy for the cruise line or travel agent to coach folks on who should book this particular adventure and what clothing they should bring. Instead, the cruise line ended up giving out about $100,000 worth of cruise discount coupons to upset customers. OUCH.

Lots of businesses fail to disclose all the information their customers need. Many packaged food companies promote products as "low-in-fat" but wilfully neglect to tell us that they're also loaded with sugar and salt.

Credit card companies hide the stuff they don't want you to know in small print and legal jargon. Appliance stores sell extended warrantees that make no economic sense.

So, here's the question for your business. What information, coaching or help do your customers need to wisely choose, effectively use and generally get the most value out of what you sell? How can you take the high ground and grow your business by being the "caring coach"? Sit down with your team and make a list of what folks really need to know to have an extraordinary experience with you and what you sell. Then figure out how you can deliver all of that effectively and joyfully.

Never forget that the easiest way to get customers on your side is to be on their side.

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability. For more information, or to subscribe to his thought-provoking free business e-newsletter, go to

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