This column is about utilizing the Five Pillars of Business Growth to achieve your business dream of market domination.  As you may recall, the Five Pillars of Business Success are: 1) The Customers Experience, 2) Make a Profit, 3) Own a Business – not a job, 4) Manage Systems, Lead People, and 5) Make Time for the Business of Business. 

In our last column, What You’re Really Selling: The Customer Experience, we introduced the First Pillar of Business Success and posed the following question:  If most customers have a variety of options to fill the need your product or service meets.  If so, why should they choose your business over every other alternative?  The answer: When there are many options available to customers, your product or service merely gets you on the field of competition.  On this field of many options the tipping point that makes a customer choose your business over all others is no longer the product or service itself.  It is the EXPERIENCE of buying that product or service from YOUR business.  In today’s column I will share some steps you can take to maximize each customer’s experience so you can win new and turn existing customers into your biggest fan.

Step One: Develop a Live-to-Serve Mindset:  This step forms the landing on which the remaining steps are built.  Embrace the fact that long-term business success in business is based on two key principals: First is what I call the Karma of Giving.  When someone freely chooses to patronize your business your business an intangible exchange of life-enriching value occurs.  They chose you because you, in some way, made their lives better than it was before.  Second is the Business Golden Rule which simply states: “Treat others as you would absolutely love to be treated yourself.”  The heart and business is relationships – friendships nurtured and cultivated by the way we treat our customers and community.  Mediocre businesses “get customers.”  Great businesses create long-lasting friendships.  When you make The Karma of Giving and the Business Golden Rule the core value of your business you have developed Live-to-Serve thinking.

Step Two: Take the Positive Point Challenge:  Creating a positive Customer Experience is not a random event.  It involves the intentional crafting of every interaction you and your business has with the public and your customers.  Once created and established, the Customer Experience is maintained through systems (Pillar Four).  The Positive Point Challenge is simple test that will help evaluate and maximize your customer’s experience.  It is loosely based on the subtle psychology of how positive and negative “impressions” work to define an overall experience as positive verses negative.  In short unpleasant and impersonal interactions (negative) are far more powerful than those that are pleasant and personal.  Every negative ‘impression” required at least three positive “impressions” to get you back to zero. 

Here’s how you do it.  If you have an office or retail space start outside and pretend you are a potential customer.  Is parking easy and convenient?  Then give your business 1 point.  If not, subtract 3 points.  Is the area around your business clean, pleasant, and decorated in a manner that positively reinforces your business image?  If yes, give yourself 1 point.  If not, subtract 3.  Now walk to the into your retail space.  Does it take less than one minute?  Yes = 1, No = -3.  As you enter do you encounter a meaningful and pleasant greeting?  Yes = 1, No = -3.  If the phone rings, does ring more than twice before being answered? Yes = 1, No = -3.  Is the person who answered the phone happy and enthusiastic?  If the caller is put on hold is it for less than 30 seconds? 

Get the idea?  Apply this point system to every possible interaction with each and every customer in each department of your business.  If your score is negative, you’re in trouble and need to make some serious changes.  If you’re merely breaking even, you have work to do.  If, however, your score is 10 or higher customer work – congratulations – Now you challenge is to create and maintain the systems that will keep it there. 

This article has introduces some steps you can take to maximize your customer’s experience.  In our next column we will discuss the seemingly obviously, yet seldom followed, Second Pillar of Business Growth:  Make a Profit.

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