What’s your corporate strategy for changing the behavior of your existing or prospective customers? How do you get people to choose your product or service over the one down the street or the one positioned near your placement on common Internet searches?
Three traditional approaches to modifying consumer behaviors are highlighted below. While not an exhaustive list, they reflect some of the most common methods used. There is absolutely a time and place for each of these approaches, either in isolation or in combination. However, there is a fourth strategy that supersedes all others.
Pricing concessions are probably the most common method to drive increased customer activity. Who doesn’t enjoy a great sale or reduced rate? While concessions can be helpful in the short term, they can also serve to undercut profitability and unintentionally program customers to jump ship as soon as a better deal comes along.
Marketing strategies take various forms: TV and radio commercials, print/electronic advertising and collateral, public relations, telemarketing, etc. Marketing can be a solid tool to promote a product or service to large groups of people at one time. However, many forms of marketing require a significant financial investment and the long-term impacts on modifying customer behaviors are tenuous at best.
3: Product Additions or Enhancements
Many organizations invest substantial time and resources on adding to existing lines of product/service offerings, or refining current ones. These could range from a hotel renovation to a new line of cosmetics to an improved CRM system for a sales organization. Product additions and enhancements are critical to remaining relevant with ever changing customer requirements. However, the financial costs involved can be exorbitant and are often passed on to the consumer, elevating price.
4: Customer Experience – The Holy Grail of Consumer Behavior Change
The most effective approach to modifying customer behaviors (i.e., purchase and referral patterns) over the long haul is to consistently create a unique and compelling service experience. Both research data and input from recognized field experts support this assertion. Here are a few examples.
Eighty-one percent of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering customer experience excellence are outperforming their competition, according to a recent study conducted by Peppers and Rogers Group. Similarly, a national survey sponsored by American Express revealed that 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
“Customer experience is the last source of sustainable differentiation in the new competitive battleground,” writes Tiffani Bova, VP and Distinguished Analyst with Gartner Research. Bestselling author Gary Vaynerchuk (The Thank You Economy) says, “People want this level of engagement from the companies with which they do business … even the best of what formerly passed for good customer service is no longer enough.”
Chromalloy is a large aircraft maintenance company in the Florida panhandle. Their customers are the major commercial airlines around the world and the military. When an aircraft engine is due for maintenance (or in need of repair), it can be cheaper for customers to ship it to Chromalloy than doing similar work in their own engine shop. For years the company did advertising in industry magazines and fought price wars with competitors. Then marketing director Jerry Price elected to put all their marketing dollars into a three-day learning extravaganza experience for their customers taught by such renowned faculty as management guru Tom Peters and quality guru Phil Crosby. It was a major success! “Now when our customers think of us,” said Price, “they remember the experience—great learning, helpful plant tours, enjoyable networking, and the fireworks on Destin beach.”
Providing a great (not merely good) service experience is essential to customer loyalty and long-term profitability. Other strategies are important as well but will not “move the needle” like service excellence. What’s your go-to-market strategy for changing your customers’ behavior?
Customer experience expert Jamey Lutz recently joined the FPG team after having served five years in a senior leadership capacity with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. In his current role as Human Performance Strategist, Jamey oversees client-based training and facilitation activities for FPG’s Service Unleashed© Program. Jamey’s specialties include customer data analytics, service improvement initiatives and reward and recognition systems.
Forrest Performance Group (FPG) is a global leader and designer of sales training programs, management training programs, and corporate training programs. FPG leads change within companies by improving the skills and utilizing the existing talents of the company’s sales professionals, leadership, and executives.
This training and development is dedicated to transforming companies into sales organizations and focuses on perfecting the science and art of sales. FPG redefines the concept of training, changes culture, and transforms lives, one company at a time. FPG is the X-Factor – the hidden variable – to companies’ growth and success.
The company believes that true, permanent change begins at the top, transforms from the inside out, and requires long-term coaching and accountability, rather than short-term training. This belief system has led to accolades for FPG, the most notable of which was their placement on the 2016 Inc. 5000 list, the most prestigious ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. In addition, FPG was winner of the global Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service for two consecutive years: The Silver award in 2014 and the Gold in 2015 for sales training and coaching program of the year.