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Be your customer's caring coach PDF Print E-mail
Written by Donald Cooper   

ImageMany of us, regardless of what business we're in, need to do a better job of understanding our customers. Generally speaking, they're confused, stressed and running out of time and they need our help in solving their lifestyle or business puzzles. They need us to be their ‘caring coach'.

As part of our trip to Europe this past July, we booked two nights at the Hotel Splendid Venice. And it was splendid - once we got there. Venice, as you know, has no roads. It has canals and winding, narrow alleys. It's charming, but it's a logistical nightmare.

Arriving at the Venice Airport, on the mainland, we had no idea how to get to our hotel which apparently was located somewhere on the main island, behind St. Mark's Square. There were water taxis at €130, and water buses at €30 - so we took the water bus. How bad could it be? Big mistake! An hour later, after many stops, we were dropped off at St. Mark's Square. Now we had to drag ourselves and four big suitcases another half hour across the Square and through poorly marked winding alleys to find our hotel. When we got there, we found a lovely little canal running -right past it. We could have been driven right to the door.

Clearly, the Hotel Splendid Venice has no idea what it's like to be a customer. If they did, they would have sent us an e-mail a week before our arrival, welcoming us to Venice and explaining the various transportation choices, their cost and approximate timing.

Then they could have informed us of the average daytime and evening temperatures during our stay along with some suggestions regarding appropriate dress and footwear. Finally, they could have listed festivals, concerts or other events taking place during our stay, including an offer to obtain tickets for us, through their Concierge.

They could even have arranged special value savings at some events or attractions as a "thank you" for staying with them. That would be extraordinary.

The hotel itself was lovely and conveniently located, once you figured out where the heck it was. But the arrival experience was horrendous. Thank God it wasn't also raining. They could have made it into a wonderful experience. How do I know that? Because that's exactly what the Marriott in Singapore did when I stayed there a while back. They proactively sent an e-mail a week before my arrival confirming my reservation, explaining the transportation choices, gave the weather forecast, listed the main events going on in the city during my stay and, hang on to your hat, offered assistance. But that's Singapore for you. They get it.

So, you're not a hotel. How does this all apply to your business? What we all need to do is to think through our relationship with our customers at every point at which they ‘touch' our business.

At each ‘touch point' what are they trying to do? What do they need or want to know and how do they want to feel? What might they find confusing, inconvenient or stressful? Then get creative. Ask yourself: "How can we be extraordinary at every touch point? What would ‘amazing' look like? What has never been done before?" Then have the courage to be extraordinary.

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 www.donaldcooper.com.

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