Years ago, I read the book Monopolize Your Marketplace. Though the title and tone is aggressive, it has some incredible content. The Three Roles of Marketing I teach come from this book. And, as I was working on a new project the other day and rummaging through some old notes, I came across the following. I hope you’ll find it useful.
One of the things they speak about in their book is what they call “The Customer Values Question”. Here’s the question: “What things are most important to your prospects when buying what you sell?”
This is so simple but it’s so important.
Important Point #1: This isn’t what is most important to people in buying from you. It’s what is most important to them when buying the generic product or service you sell. This is about their experience of buying as a customer – not yours as a seller. You must put yourself in their shoes. You must learn, above all, to see the world through their eyes.
Important Point #2: We’re asking what is most important to your ideal client – whether or not it’s something you provide yet. If what’s most important to your customer is 24 service but you only have 8 hour a day service, still write it down.
Important Point #3: Remember, there are two parts to any business interaction – there’s what they’re getting and how they’re getting it. There’s the product and then there’s the process of getting it. And they are both equally important. There are things that are going to be important to them about the product they’re buying but there’s also going to be things that are important about the salesperson.
Important Point #4: This question includes not only the value they want to get but the values they hope or expect your business will embody. These values are what makes them feel good about themselves for doing business with you.
Example #1: What things are most important to your prospects when buying a new car?
I want the car to:
- be fuel efficient
- be a nice colour
- have a good warranty
- not have too many miles on the odometer?
- not have too much wear and tear
About the salesman:
- is the sales-person slimy and manipulative or trustworthy?
- can i trust that they have my own best interests in mind?
- no hidden fees?
Example #2: What things are most important to your prospects when buying a new fence?
- I want the fence to: look good, not turn brown quickly, not sag or lean, last at least ten years and be of high quality.
- About the fence contractor: I don’t want any hidden costs, I want the fence to be completed in a reasonable time frame, I don’t want the workers to be scary drug users, I want a reasonable price.
Example #3: What things are most important to your prospects when hiring a life coach?
I want to know that my coach . . .
- will be on time for calls
- is able give me templates, quizzes and other materials to help me
- has made significant, positive shifts in their own life dues to life coaching
- is aligned with my life values
- asks questions vs. doling out advice
- is committed to their own growth
- is certified by a recognized coaching organization
- is not going to pressure me to do things I don’t want to do
Example #4: What things are most important to your prospects when hiring a web designer?
I want to know that my web designer . . .
- will be able to respond quickly to any changes i need to make to my site.
- will ask me a tonne of questions upfront to make sure that they really understand what exactly it is I’m wanting and needing
- can explain to me, up front, their process for designing a website.
- has designed other sites that I like
- will deliver their work on time and on budget
Example #5: What Things Are Most Important to You On International Flights ?
“British Airways wanted to keep customers happy, so it asked regular customers on the transatlantic run what they most wanted. The answer was an overwhelming “Leave us alone and let us sleep!” Passengers wanted their own comfy universe, and they got it. British Airways first-class passengers currently dine on a five-course meal with fine linen and candlelight in the waiting lounge before they board the aircraft, and then it’s to sleep right after take-off. The seat reclines almost to horizontal – as close to a bed as you can get. The airline lends you a two-piece running suit that is like a nice pair of pajamas and provides you with a comforter and face mask. If you don’t want to sleep, you have a choice of movies at your own seat and an in-flight banquet.” – Marketing Without Advertising
Then Identify What They Don’t Want:
Seth Godin puts it well:
“When you identify what is broken among you competitors, you’ve found a free prize. Your growth will come instead from the dissatisfied and the unsatisfied. The dissatisfied know that they want a solution, but aren’t happy with the solution you’ve got. The minute they find it, they’ll buy it. Yahoo!’s best customers weren’t Google’s first users. Nope. The happy Yahoo! customers weren’t busy looking for a replacement. Google focused on dissatisfied Web surfers. The unsatisfied are the folks who don’t even realize that they’ve got a problem that needs solving. The question you ought to ask first is, “will people dissatisfied with what they’re using now embrace this, and even better, will they tell the large number of unsatisfied people to go buy it right away?” Yahoo! changed its focus from engaging the dissatisfied and the unsatisfied to trying to maintain it’s hold on the satisfied. Go find some people who hate what you’ve got and who hate what your competitors have but still have a problem they want solved. Those are the folks that want the free prize.”
Dental Office Example of Industry Frustrations:
The following is something I got in the email from Paddi Lund’s organization. Paddi is a dentist from Australia with a legendary reputation for client care. I think you’ll get a sense as to why and how this fits into the conversation about the frustrations people have about the dental industry.
“Just fill out these forms and hand them back when you’re done…” say the medical receptionists handing you a clipboard with the pen on a string.
I don’t know about you, but I hate when I hear these words, and I get them a lot. I don’t like them for several reasons.
- I look at forms and go bug-eyed – literally I find most of them difficult to comprehend and a pain to fill out. Apparently I’m not alone in this regard!
- Questions on medical forms are often complicated or difficult to understand – ie they’re often poorly written and confusing … and seemingly irrelevant!
- There’s rarely enough space for the questions that matter, as if I can figure out which ones do matter.
- I just “KNOW” that no one will look at these forms ever again. I “know” that because no one ever seems to mention that information again, and I’m often repeating the same answers verbally later.
- It seems that even though I’m on time for my appointment, I only get my place in line after I complete the forms – anyone who comes in while I’m writing gets in before me.
- Now, because I’m writing so fast, I’m certain my already scratchy hand- writing is doubly illegible! Nobody ever asks for clarification. Nobody seems to care.
(Can you tell I’ve been to the doctor a lot with my kids recently!)
I think completing forms is one of the most obviously frustrating customer service problems that exist in the world today. Big statement, but more so because it’s so obviously unpleasant and yet no one seems to want to do anything about it!
Well Paddi did, and how he fixed the problem is so simple and seamless that it’s admirable and worthy of specific mention.
~~~~~~~~~~~ Back to your Walk Through of Paddi’s practice ~~~~~~~~~~~
You rang the doorbell and were personally greeted by Merilyn, your Care Nurse. Merilyn showed you to your Personal Lounge, and she has just poured you a cup of Special Blend Tea from the lovely Royal Doulton china and silver tea service.
As you chat over your cup of tea, Merilyn is affable and genuinely interested as she asks about you and shares a little about herself (mutual disclosure is another of Paddi’s principles of building trust). You already have a few things in common because of your friend who invited you to the practice.
In the first few minutes Merilyn explains, “As it’s your first visit with us today, as we get to know each other I’ll be asking a few questions about your medical history that might be important for us to know.”
At this stage, Merilyn draws your attention to the laptop computer on the coffee table in front of her that you noticed as you sat down.
“I’ll just take a moment every now and then to type the important information directly into your file. Please don’t think me impolite, but we think it’s better than giving you forms that we’d have to type in later anyway. Is that ok with you?”
“Hmmmmm,” you ponder. You might have to think about that one for a moment!
And that’s Paddi’s answer to the problem of forms. They don’t have them. His Care Nurses have wirelessly networked laptops they carry around with them so they can update client’s records in real time, even in the dental surgery.
It’s perhaps a little detail, but it makes such an impact on anyone who dislikes forms as much as I do. The pain that once was filling out forms has been transformed into a pleasant conversation with a very likable Merilyn over a lovely cup of tea and a fresh baked dental bun.
And it’s a much more efficient use of everyone’s time:
- Merilyn doesn’t have to find time later to decipher your handwriting – let alone another admin nurse who doesn’t know you at all.
- The data is recorded accurately the first time, no additional questions later or mistakes from mistyped information.
- As your Care Nurse, Merilyn is with you your entire visit – in the Personal Lounge and in the dental surgery –you’ll never have to repeat information to Paddi that you’ve already told Merilyn.
- Hence, you only have to share the information once, enjoyably and accurately, in less time than it would take to write the same history.
- And the privacy of the Personal Lounge is so much more appropriate for these somewhat personal conversations than the conventional all-in-one waiting room. As Paddi likes to say, “Treat in public, communicate in private.” (More on this in an upcoming issue.)
People really seem to open up when they’re comfortable and in control, in their personal lounge talking with their Care Nurse. It’s an important part of building faith and trust in Paddi’s expertise.
And because it’s enjoyable, customers are quite happy to spend the time chatting – anyway, they were told in advance that they should set aside 90 minutes for their first appointment, so no one is watching the clock wondering how long all this will take.
For more on the importance of addressing key customer fears and frustrations, see Paddi’s Advanced Manual, “Training Customers to Treasure Your Business”.
~~~~~~~~~~~ What this means to you? ~~~~~~~~~~~
If you’re in professional practice where new patients fill in forms, you might consider how Paddi’s solution to this key customer frustration might work with your service systems. Paddi has found it a far more simple and effective way of doing things, and the extra 20 minutes or so that Merilyn spends chatting is time and money well invested in the future business relationship.But even if you’re not in a medical related business, you might consider these points:
- What key frustrations do your customers experience when doing business with you? (ie what are your businesses “Forms & Clipboards”?)
- How can you change your service systems to turn those frustrations into enjoyable parts of the service experience? (If for no other reason than your obvious care in addressing an otherwise common problem in a creative way.)
- How can you integrate your new process into your systems, procedures and checklists so that the problems never arise for your customers again?
Why not make a list of what you think are the most common key service frustrations in your industry and send it to me by e-mail. I’d be interested in comparing notes.”
* * *
A Few More Examples of Industry Frustrations:
DENTISTS: No one likes to go to the dentist because it’s such a painful experience.
Potential Irresistible Offer: ‘Sedation Dentistry, the safe, pain free way to healthy teeth.’
REALTORS: People are wary of letting real estate agents sell their homes because the don’t believe the agents will aggressively try to sell them fast enough.
Potential Irresistible Offer: ‘Our 20 point Power Marketing Plan gets your house sold in 30 days or less.’
PLUMBERS: They show up late (or give you an all day timeline, don’t fix it right the first time and charge more than the initial estimate)
Potential Irresistible Offer: ‘We will give you an exact time and guarantee to have some there at that time. If we’re more than an hour late – it’s on us. We guarantee to never charge more than the initial quote and, if we have to come back to fix a job we were already working on – it’s on us. You shouldn’t pay for our mistakes.’
Robert Boduch has this to say:
“The best system I’ve seen for developing a strong USP, comes from Marketing guru, Jay Abraham. He suggests taking out 2 sheets of paper. On one sheet write, “You Know How…” and on the other write “Well, what we do is…”
HOMECLEANERS: “You know how most home cleaners only work to schedules that suit them. Well, what we do is send a crew whenever you want, anytime of day or night, 7 days a week, including holidays, 52 weeks a year. When you want your home cleaned, we’re there fast, guaranteed!”
CONTRACTORS: “You know how most contractors promise a hassle-free renovation, then… they’re always behind schedule, leave your house a mess… and they even have the nerve to charge you 15% more than their estimate! Well what we do is ensure your job will be completed on time and at the initial price quoted – 100% guaranteed! And, our crew understands that you’re living in your home throughout the renovation, so we promise to take extra time at the end of every day, just to clean up any mess. We help you create dreams… not nightmares.”
A Worksheet For You To Figure This Out For Your Business
Have a friend or colleague interview you and record what you say.
What is most important to your ideal clients in buying ______________?
Have they ever been screwed over when buying ______________? What happened?
What is their biggest problems, frustrations, annoyances, etc. when buying _______?
What values do they most want you to embody as a business?
Worst experiences you’ve ever had in your industry/heard of? What are the industry frustrations? What are the complaints you’ve received about your own business? What problems, frustrations, annoyances etc. do people experience when buying what you sell (hot buttons)?
What is the average experience people have in your industry with your competition? Or what do they experience when they try to handle the problem on their own? What’s the entire process people go through before, during and after they pay?
What are the best experiences you’ve heard of in your industry?
How would you describe most people’s negative perceptions of and feelings about your industry? How would they say it? (e.g. “They’re all full of shit.” or “Can’t trust em as far as you can throw em.” or “They’re well intentioned but so disorganized.”) Put on your cynical hat and get real about this.
What are the risks (real and imagined) that people see in doing business with you? What are they scared might happen if they were to hire you or buy from you?
What’s attractive to you about your business? Which parts do you most enjoy? What are you most proud of?
What’s unattractive to you about your business? Which parts do you enjoy the least? What drains you? Is there anywhere you secretly feel ashamed of your business?
Is there anything else that’s important to you about . . .
- WHAT they’re offering?
- WHO they offer it to?
- HOW they offer it?
- WHEN they offer it?
- WHERE they offer it?
- WHY they offer it?
What would you consider the top three most important factors from all your answers?
HOMEWORK: Ask your clients and prospects this question.
If they want shopping, getting a massage, buying organic groceries (whatever it is that you do . . .) to be fun and easy, what gets in the way of that? What doesn’t make it fun and easy?”