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Think Like a Customer and Improve Your Business from the Customer Viewpoint


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Don’t take your customers for granted! In this webinar, on the PME 360 Powering Business Growth Show, Bill Packard, a small business consultant in Maine, explores the topic of improving your customer experience and how having a core value statement will dramatically improve your business. Learn to “Think Like a Customer” and find ways to grow and improve your small business from the customer viewpoint.

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Think Like a Customer and Improve Your Business from the Customer Viewpoint

  1. 1. Think Like a Customer and Improve YourBusiness from the Customer ViewpointRon: PME360: Powering Business Growth Show.Each week, we talk about the issues and offer some advice on how to power growth for yourbusiness. I’m your host Ron Rodi, Jr.With me as always, my main man, the man with the plan, the marketing genius, Mr. RyanPaul Adams – our CEO.Ryan, good morning!Ryan: Good morning, Ron!Ron: How are you today?Ryan: I’m doing great!Ron: Excellent, excellent!Today, we have a very special guest. That guest is Bill Packard, dedicated to help smallbusiness build and solidify their customer bases by coaching them to make superiorcustomer service their #1 priority.If you feel that your business is running you and I know many people do. And you need moretime, less stress, and more profits – Bill can help. Many times, a different set of eyes lookinginto your business can see things that you cannot.Often times, it’s very easy to overlook certain principles that can make a huge difference inyour business and in the success of your local small business.Speaker, author, business coach and all-around good guy, Mr. Bill Packard.Bill, good morning! How are you?Bill: Good morning! I’m doing well. I’m doing well. Thank you.Ron: Thank you for joining us today. We are very excited to have you on.Bill: My pleasure to be here.Ron: Bill, we’ll talk a little bit about Thinking Like a Customer today.And I know you have some great insights. So we’re going to go ahead and just turn it over toyou Bill. And we will listen intently. So let’s go ahead and get the conversation started.How to think like a customer? Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  2. 2. Bill: Okay. Let’s get going here. I’m going to cover 3 basic areas for thinking like a customer:the importance of thinking like a customer, the relationship with the customer.A lot of business owners think of the customers as their support, the people who pay thebills, etc. But developing the relationship between a customer is a real, real key point todeveloping a successful small business.And then, we’ll talk about the importance of engaging and empowering the employees.Again, you need to have a solid team around you, working for you. Everybody on your team,in your organization thinking of themselves like a customer.And then, I’m going to finish up with some comments on difficult customers because I getthat a lot from different people. “How do you handle this? How do you handle that?”So those are the 3 areas that I’m going to focus on this morning. But what I like to do is takea couple of minutes to let people know me so that they understand where I’m coming from.Ron: Yeah. Please do.Bill: I live in a small town in Maine. Union Maine – just off the coast. It’s a beautiful, beautifulplace to live on. I’m blessed to be here. I love to travel but there’s no better place to livethan right here.I started four different businesses from scratch. I’ve pretty much been an entrepreneur formost of my life.Packard Landscapes was obviously a landscape business. Pavement Professionals was aparking lot maintenance business. It’s striping, seal coating and sweeping. And that businesscovered Maine, pretty much all of Maine.Packard Transportation was trailer trucks to deliver paper goods to Mid-Atlantic Seaboardarea, Philadelphia and Baltimore. And Down to Earth is a business I recently sold.I sold off all four of these businesses in different times. But I just sold off Down to Earth thatwas a specialty site work business. Here in Maine, we have a lot of water, and if that water isgoing places where it shouldn’t, it causes some problems. And that was part of my specialty,to correct those drainage problems.And in the middle of this, I spend 9 and a half years in corporate America in a companycalled MBNA, a credit card company. I had some unique responsibilities there. I did well andI learned a lot about Corporate America.A lot of the things that Corporate America does are very, very beneficial to small businessesif they’re adapted to that. So that’s kind of my background.And I want to share a picture with you that kind of shows really what I am.I am not a guy in a suit that comes in and has a big briefcase and all kinds of wonderful ideas.I’m just, basically a hard working guy who has paid attention, educated myself and donepretty well. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  3. 3. Ron: All right.Bill: This is a picture from my honeymoon about 33 years ago. And you may have noticed thefirst thing is, there’s a child in the picture. Probably most people don’t take their 6-year oldstep daughter in their honeymoon.But we’re going to Central Florida here. And I don’t think know how you’re going to tell a 6-year old girl that you’re going to Disney World and she’s staying home. So we took her andwe had a wonderful time.If you also notice in the background, you’ll see the wedding limo, which was, well, a trailertruck. And we were at her folk’s house in Central Florida and we dropped the daughter offthere. And we moved to Miami, we came back and started the honeymoon.The neatest part of the whole thing was when we came out of Disney World, we didn’t haveto wonder where we parked because we were the only trailer truck there.You can see that I do things a little differently but one thing you’ll see is that I make do withwhat I have. And I try to get the most out of it. And that’s what I share with my clients.The honeymoon you know, it can’t last forever so we decided that we wanted to live theAmerican dream so we looked around and bought our first house. And there that baby is.And I tell you what, that was the beginning of, if the DIY show was on TV right now on thatnetwork – I would have the longest-running home improvement show.We bought this house. We agreed to buy this house and we found out that it wasdepreciated beyond inhabitable. We had no idea.We ended building another foundation, moving the house into the new foundation. Turnedout to be a very comfortable, wonderful house for us. But you never know when you startwhere you are going to end up. You just have got to keep plugging away.So that’s going to give you an idea on what we’re – you’re not probably going to get a lot ofboring business talks and terms this morning. So think like a customer.Keeping existing customers is cheaper than getting new ones. Most businesses if you askthem what they’re focusing on. We’ve got to get more customers. I’ve got to get morecustomers.Now, especially a lot of effort in social media. And social media is wonderful. And if youdon’t have a presence in social media and you’re in business then you need to get one. Butit’s not the answer to everything.So if you focus on your existing customers, that’s money and time well spent as supposed toalways trying to get new customers.Be very careful of the mindset that I got this customer of mine so I don’t need to worryabout them anymore. I’ve got to go and get another one. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  4. 4. There are lots of studies. People study everything and there are different viewpoints. But it’sbeen declared or studied that people who give you money once are 3 to 7 times more likelyto do it again.So depending on who you talk to, some people say 3 times, some say 7. There’s probablyother numbers out there. But the reality is if someone does business with you once, they’llpretty likely to do business with you again – as long as they’re happy.When you get thinking like a customer, then you realize and understand the importance ofoffering customers what they want instead of what you think customers need.Another trap that small business owners fall into very easily is I know what’s best. This is myfield of interest and they find themselves talking to a customer saying, “You need this andyou need that.”And if you think about it, we don’t often buy things that we need even though we may havethe money and may be able to do that. But sometimes, we don’t do that because we don’twant them.We may need that thing. But we don’t really want it.Ron: These are 3 great talking points that really you can go probably 30 minutes on eachpoint, right?Just looking at these, there are really a number of things that pop in here.Great overview. Turning your customers into raving fans, right? Making sure that they’rereally behind you. That they’re really 100% your raving fan.Lots of time, we’re chasing around for new deals and at the end of the day, we may havesomething.Trying to grow your existing account base. How can you dig deeper and lighter within yourexisting accounts because there very well may be problems there that you can solve.Bill: You’re right. If you’re in touch with your customers, you’re going to know what’s goingon.You’re going to know if there are problems with your existing customer base. And that’s theway you want to start. Because if you don’t know what’s going on there, how are you goingto know that you’re looking for the right customers?Growing from within – from referrals, any kind of promotion that grows your existingcustomer base from within is much better and much stronger than just basically casting awide net and wondering who you’re going to catch.So I want to move on to why customers leave. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  5. 5. I think it’s important for business to understand why customers leave them and do businesswith somebody else. Because I think it’s really misunderstood. And really when I talk tobusinesses today, initially do they get the concept.The perception is very different. I’ll breeze through these. Because there’s a couple that Ireally want to focus on. This is from the SBA, by the way.These numbers are probably 4 to 5 years old now. But I don’t believe they’ve changed verymuch over time.So 1% of the customers are going to die.3% move.5% seek alternative solutions, which means that they pretty much don’t need what you sellanymore for whatever reason: that they’re lives have changed or they don’t have a need forwhat you’re selling.This is interesting, 9% go to competition. Most businesses think that this number is going tobe much higher. They think there’s a higher percentage of people going to competitionbecause the competition has a better offer or deal.14% leave because they are dissatisfied with the product or service. So there’s a place tolook right there – and take a serious look at.Do you have quality products and are you providing a level of service that customers aregoing to be loyal to? Or could you improve in that area?And here’s the big one. 68% feel they were not treated appropriately.So to put this in perspective. Let’s just say that every year, you have a successful businessand people move on and you have lots and lots of customers.Let’s just say that every year, a hundred customers go some place else. 68% of them gobecause you didn’t treat them appropriately.And 14 of them leave because they were not happy with the product or service that you’veprovided them.So if you go back to thinking like a customer, 82% of the customers that you have that wouldpotentially leave are not going anywhere if they are happy with the products or services andyou treat them appropriately.So those 2 areas are areas where you can make a huge, huge difference in without spendinga lot of money.Ron: Can you give a couple of examples that you see consistently. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  6. 6. What do you define as not being treated appropriately? I’m sure that’s all across the board.But what can you see consistently throughout your career, your experiences about that lastpoint, 68%?Bill: I can give an example of what happened recently. This happened to a friend of mine, nota client. He’s in the construction business and he has made a purchase, doing business witha company for quite a few years and they did a lot of big-ticket purchases from them.And he never thought that he’d go anywhere else. And he’s getting a new piece ofequipment and he wanted to ask some questions on the size of the body or some generalquestions.So he called them in the middle of the day and he said, “I’m going to do this and I have somequestions.”And the guy said, “I’m eating my lunch right now. You are kind of interrupting my lunch. Canyou call me back later?”So the fellow hung up. And he told me, “For the first time in my life, I’m not going to dobusiness with them anymore. I’m going with somebody different. He turned me off.”Ron: I think it really needs to echo and permeate throughout the entire company right?So let’s say do you have customer service? Do you other people who interface with yourclient?And if they don’t come forward with the same culture, same mentality, you could losesomeone like that. That’s a very candid story that you told there.Bill: You’re absolutely right. The interesting thing is though, what the business will probablythink is they’ll go up to the 9%. They’ll see this fellow with a piece of equipment from thecompetitor on his truck and they’re going to say, “Ah those guys from wherever the guy theygot this item from, ah they’re killing us.”“The competition is killing us”But in reality and I don’t say this to hurt anybody’s feelings because I think we all fall in thesame category – we are killing ourselves.But people are going to go somewhere. So they go to the competition. Many times notbecause they want to but because they’ve got to have whatever it is that we are offering.That’s kind of the odd thing. People think it’s the competition. And as a result, they thinkthey’ve got to beat their price. They’ve got to do this. They’ve got to do that.But really, look out for yourself and everything else will take care of itself.You know, when you mentioned about having everybody on board. As I segue into this nextslide, I want to go over this very quick. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  7. 7. This is another seminar that I do in-house for business. I just want to point out theimportance of this in relation to engaging and empowering employees.This can be called business focus. This can be called culture, can be called core values. Now, Iuse different terms because people may see them everywhere.Those are the core values of your business and the things you won’t compromise on. Thethings that make you unique and make you special.If you’re in the lawn mowing business, well actually you’re not in lawn mowing business,you’re in the customer service business. When someone asks what makes you special you’vegot to be able to go up and explain to them why customers come to you instead of hundredsof lawn mowing services around.This is another basic beginning step that most small businesses just kind of skip over. Theyget busy. They get involved in other things.And if they don’t identify those core values, you start having difficulties in all of these areas.You will attract customers which I will talk about in a little bit. You’ll attract customers thatyou really don’t want.You’ll spend marketing money that really is not that effective as it could be.You will attract and hire employees that you don’t want. And the way that your company ispresented probably won’t appear the way it really should be.You won’t be able to put your best foot forward. So identifying what is, it’s very much like amission statement. But I think it’s even more basic.Then, it’ll be able to let you draw in the right customers, draw in the right employees, makegood use of your marketing. Everybody will be sharing the same core values.And here’s one that I think is good for businesses up here.At such as such, we pride ourselves in delivering dependable, clean, safe, consistent workwith polite and respectful employees. Now doesn’t that sound like the type of businessyou’d want in your property?It does to me. They understand what they’re doing. They take pride in their work they’ve gotto be clean, safe and consistent.The employees, they expect them to be polite and respectful. I mean, they put it out beforethey even arrive.If you take something like this and take it to the employees, wouldn’t it be likely that theseemployees would understand the expectations of the company. They expect that they’regoing to deliver dependable, clean, safe and consistent work. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  8. 8. So they know that they’ve got to be safe and that they need to be clean. They need to beconsistent everywhere.The expectation is for them to be polite and be respectful. So most human beings will live upto what the expectations are. So they’ll try very hard to do this because it’s clear. It’s spelledright out.Now, this is mine – it’s very simple:I offer practical, very affordable, down to earth guidance and assistance for entrepreneurs togive them a peace of mind and freedom from their business and increase profits.Again, it’s pretty straight forward.Ron: Just to talk about the core values. I just want to give an example and I know that Ryancan echo this.If you don’t have those core values and you’re working with people, it can go both ways.But when you’re working with customers that don’t have the same values that you have, youknow that they’re probably not a good fit but you take them on because you need the extrarevenue. Or, “Hey, we’ve got to take them guys on.”So you sacrifice your basic principles. It makes everyone else, really, it permeatesthroughout.People are stressed. You get the feeling that you’re just taking on the customer because youknow.They don’t align. And if they don’t align, it’s very important. I think you bring up an excellentpoint. If your customers will not be aligned, if they are not aligned with your core values –really, you’re wasting your time, energy and resources.It kind of goes back to what we talked about in the beginning, eliminating stress and morefocused.I just wanted to interject there. It’s really a telling slide, I couldn’t agree more, frankly.Bill: You’re exactly right. It creates, especially with the customer, a very unhealthyatmosphere.I’m sure there’s a lot of people that can identify with the fact that you only see the dooropen or you open the front door, here comes that customer and everybody says, “Oh, therethey are.”That’s so unhealthy. It happens all the time.Ron: it gets to a point where you don’t even want to open an email from that particularindividual. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  9. 9. Bill: Exactly.So can we anything about it?Well, here’s a solution. This is actually in 2 parts. I call it difficult customers but the first partof it, I’m going to refer to it as a customer with a complaint.Let’s call it as an unhappy customer at first. They may be a good fit for you. But they’reupset.One thing I learned in Corporate America because we had to take calls from customers oneday a month. No matter what we did in the company. Because when you get to be anofficer, you’ve got to be on a certain level. They don’t want you to lose sight on who paidyour paycheck.So we have an education on how to handle calls and of difficult customers.The main thing is to maintain control. If that customer comes in and they come in throughthe door or they’re on the phone saying, “You’re going to do this, you’re going to do that.And I’m unhappy…I’m so on and so forth.”You need to take control of that. That point, the customer is in control. And the customer’stelling you what you are going to do in your business. And it’s really not the way it’ssupposed to work.So you need to be respectful of the fact that they’re upset and that they have an issue.But the first thing to do is maintain control. Get control of the situation and here’s whereengaging and empowering your employees become very important.If that employee is empowered to say, “We’ll fix this. We are going to do what we can tomake it right.”Then you are changing the conversation. You’re calming the person down. They feel asthough they’re going to get some positive results.Maintain control is the first thing.Don’t take it personal. Now there is an exception to this. If the customer is upset with you, Iguess you’ll probably take it personal.If you did something that upset the customer then they’re upset with you. However, I wouldstill give the same advice. Don’t take it personal. They don’t know you. They don’t come toyour house for dinner.It’s not necessarily something that you did or maybe, they just didn’t understand orwhatever. So don’t take it personal because if you do, you will send it back to them personal.They will get personal. It will be, basically, just a fight. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  10. 10. So step back. Take yourself out of it and focus on a solution.Ron: Remove the ego, right?Bill: Exactly.You could be right or you could be rich. Something like that. It’s kind of the deal. So if youwant to be right all the time, well…Often times, you say, “You’re right and I’m wrong.” And that ends it. You know, they don’thave anything else to talk about. It’s all they’re looking for.Ron: Exactly.Bill: But above and beyond that, look for learning opportunities.Something went wrong. Nobody probably did anything intentionally. It’s just that, somethingwent wrong.Often times, in small businesses, what I find is that, you really didn’t do anything wrong. Butit may be a problem with customer expectation. You may have not made it clear what wasgoing to happen and what you did. So a lot of times, I think there is an educationalopportunity to learn the next time in that situation.Say you sell dog food and someone comes in and gets a new dog food. In the poster, it says,“Mix it with old dog food so the dog doesn’t get upset.”But you forgot to tell them that there’s nothing wrong with the new dog food, there’snothing wrong with anything else. The dog is sick and they’re mad at you. It’s just a situationwhere you forgot to explain the proper use of the product you’re selling. So always look forlearning opportunities.Ron: I think this can be applied even in the proposal process, even in how you deliver yourpresentation or your scope of work.Think about it – maybe, I didn’t explain in the right way. Or maybe I didn’t tell you what thisprocess looks like.Bill: Yes, exactly.In that Down to Earth business I used to own, I did recycling of gravel roads and I would go inand I had a machine that grated the gravel up, chew and burn the material from the sidesand grated it all back out again. And it worked really well.The key thing was, the first time it rained. That gravel would get greasy on top just a littlebit.Just a little bit because of the organic material. I didn’t tell people that and I’d get all thesephone calls. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  11. 11. But I learned from that and I told everybody, “This is what it’s going to happen. Don’t bealarmed. We’ll do it once. You’ll be fine forever.” And it was. But before I told them, theywere hot on the phone.Ron: And like you’ve mentioned in the beginning, having that extra set of eyes would haveprevented that potentially from happening.Having someone else say, “If you address this issue…”And it’s a lesson learned.Bill: Someone to say, “Is there anything out there that’s going to surprise people?”Anything that a different set of eyes to look at stuff is huge.Ron: Ryan, you have something?Ryan: Stuff I’ve ran into as well, sometimes, you just have a difficult person in your hands.There’s nothing that you did wrong. It’s just that type of person. And we all know that typeof person or we’ve encountered them before. And there’s no amount of pre-planning oranything else that you could have done on your end to make this person happy.It just happens. And I just feel that there’s no amount of money out there that somebodycan pay me that’s worth being abused.So stand up for yourself. If you’re running into situations where you have that type ofpersons, type of client then don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.And it doesn’t have to be confrontational.Bullies typically tend to back off when somebody stands up to them. Sometimes, that’s whatyou may be dealing with. This difficult person is a bully.If that’s the case, there’s nothing wrong with just saying, “Look, thank you! This is not goingto work. It’s not working for you. It’s not healthy for me. Let’s move on and part ways.” Aslong as your contract allows you to do it.Ron: And I think Ryan, on the other side, if you are conceding then you are creating anenvironment for that to happen again.Ryan: Creating a monster is what you are doing.Bill: That’s a good point. And this is a tough thing for all of us to accept responsibility.And I think you really have to work at it. The reality is, if you have customers like that, that’syour responsibility because you allow them in your business, you allow them in your life.I encourage my people to deal with that in the following way – you need to fire a customer. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  12. 12. And now, sometimes people get really excited and they think that they’re just going to gofire everybody.You’ve got to calm down a bit. That’s not what I’m getting at right here.If you just go back briefly to that core values slide if you can remember that.Just think about that, if you got a customer whose core values are not in an alignment withyour core values, you are not able to make that customer happy.I don’t care what you do. I don’t care how much hard you work at it. I don’t care how muchmoney you invest or how much time you invest. They are looking for something different –different from what you are offering.You’ve got to accept that. It doesn’t mean that they are bad persons. They very well couldbe bad persons but it doesn’t mean they are necessarily.It doesn’t mean that you are a bad person. But if you can recognize that customer early onenough that’s where they haven’t known what your core values are or what’s important toyou as important. And you can identify that customer then you can graciously say, “I thinkthere’s somebody even better to serve you. This isn’t working.”People are amazed at what a relief it is when they let that customer go.And 99 times out of 100, that customer is going to beg you to keep them. As much as youthink they’re miserable and they hate coming to do business with you. They’ll say “Ohplease. Oh please, help me.”Ron: It’s especially true if you stick to your core principles throughout the entireengagement. If you consistently have the attitude that you’ve mentioned here.And your core values, if you’re consistent with it, then it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise.So it’s very empowering. You’re absolutely right, very interesting. I know I’m taking notes forcertain here. This has been very helpful.Bill: Excellent! I appreciate that.Another area that is important. I think, everybody should learn about energy. Good energyand bad energy – we all got so much energy. That’s all we have.How we apply it and what we do with it are very important. When you do fire that customer,just think about it.I’ve created that mental picture of here he comes through the door again – he or she. Herethey come. Everybody in your whole business goes on alert.Everybody has this defensive posturing. It’s almost like we’re gauging up for war here. All ofthat energy goes away when that person isn’t there. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  13. 13. And that gives room for positive energy for you to really have a good engagement withsomeone who is aligned with you. Because let’s face it when that person leaves (thatdifficult customer), if you and your employees think you’ve flipped that switch and you’renot in war mode anymore when that person comes through the door, you’re dreaming.Because they come through the door and they don’t know what happened but they knowsomething bad just happened before they got there. I could tell you. I’m sure you’ve alwaysfelt that.So channeling that energy and making the most of it is super, super important.Ron: Absolutely! Love that.I was going to say, what do we do next? How can people reach you? What’s your advicemoving forward?Bill: Just implement one thing. Entrepreneurs are famous for chasing shiny objects.We get one idea. One idea leads to another idea, which leads to another idea, which buildson another idea and we didn’t get the first one even started.A lot of entrepreneurs, they’ve started but they haven’t completed them.Pick one thing. Maybe you just want to write down what you feel are the core values of yourbusiness. Maybe, you want to meet with your employees and share with them theimportance of the customer.Whatever it is, just do one thing.When you get that done, cross that off and do something else. Don’t try to take on toomuch. You’re not going to change your business in a 1-hour webinar.I appreciate everybody taking the time to be on here. But even if you took really great notesand you go back and you try to implement some stuff, it takes more than that to make achange.But at least, you’ll be in the right mindset.Anybody is welcome to email me at with questions or concerns toinquire about one-on-one seminars.I do seminars in-house. I also do a couple of coaching programs. You can call me at 207-691-2659. Pretty much anytime in the day except when I’m on a call or a webinar. I’m not goingto take your call during those instances.And if you visit, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what I’m all about.There’s quite a lot of information on that website. There’s a blog in there that’s updatedregularly. I send out a newsletter every week. I’d be glad to send it to anyone who just go to Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses
  14. 14. the sign up box and put in your name and email address. And I’d love to add you to thefamily.So thank you very much guys for the opportunity to share what I’m doing.I hope you find it worthwhile.Ron: Bill, thank you! I truly feel that this is the perfect format for the Powering BusinessGrowth show.You had excellent points. I truly enjoyed it. Thank you very much for your time.Ryan: Thank you, Bill! I appreciate it.Bill: Thank you. Thank you, guys. Powering Growth Online for Local Businesses