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Convenience Is The Key To Great Customer Service
by Debbie Allen, CSP

Adding more conveniences for your customers is crucial to your success in this ever-competitive and ever-changing business environment today. Time is a highly valued commodity! Our time-crushed society is multi-tasking like it is some new skill that was invented. We thought technology would make our lives easier in the long run – but it appears to give us even more to do these days. We have simply found a way around doing two to three things at once and driving ourselves crazy in the process. Therefore getting your customer’s attention and offering them the service they expect, has become even more of a challenge.

In this information-age, your customers have busy lives. They try harder to keep up with new marketing skills and the latest technology. In addition, many are working longer hours just to keep up and stay ahead of the growing competition. Two income families struggle the most as they seek out both valuable time for work and time to build a stronger family unit.

This time-crushed society seeks out businesses that can save them time with added conveniences and services. Convenience for this customer ranks much higher than a low price tag every time. Sure they want fair pricing, but they are willing to pay a little more for convenient service that can make their lives easier by saving them TIME.

Let’s look at it another way. Most people buy out of emotion – not logic. Yes, they would like you to believe that they buy with a logical reason in mind but this is not always the case. Depending on the type of business you are in, most of your customers buy out of emotion and because there is a strong personal connection. They then begin to build logic into the buying decision to justify their purchase.

For example: Say you want to buy that shinny new red convertible sports car that you really can’t afford at this time in your life. But you really want it and will try to figure out a way to justify it logically in your mind. You want the car because of how you believe it will make you feel and how it will improve your lifestyle. Maybe it will make you feel sexier, younger and/or healthier. It is not about the car as much as it is the results you will receive from owning it. Those results are exciting to you. So, if your salesperson were smart, he or she would find a way to get you into the car by making it easy and more convenient for you to make the purchase. This could be done by helping you complete hassle-free financing forms, offering you faster delivery, offering a free loaner, giving you free bonuses, etc. They would ask you what they can do to help you save the time of looking around and to help you make the decision to own the car of your dreams.

By making it easy and more convenient for you customers to buy you take the “sting” and the hassle” out of the purchase and let the emotions override the logic.

Less Service And Convenience Drives Customers Online 24/7
The customer of the 21st century has learned to service himself or herself 24/7 on the Internet because they want to have the convenience of researching anything at anytime online. And this is just the start of 24/7 services. According to USA Today, 24/7 is now a way of life. It is not just an expression; it is a cultural earthquake that is changing the way we live and do business!

Example: I know this to be true because now more than 60% of my business comes directly from my information-rich website www.DebbieAllen.com. It has even made my business more convenient by not having to send out as much information and demo videotapes by mail. I make it easy for my customers to contact me by inviting them to view my website from my telephone answering machine. Often by the time I have returned the call, they have already gone onto my site and took action. They may want to receive free articles for their publication from my pressroom at http://debbieallen.com/pressroom.htm, or signed up for my exclusive Power Marketing membership. This brings in more business for me automatically because my customers can make a quick decision or find the information they need at that moment. It’s easy – simply add on line to your answering machine message inviting your customers to go to your website to learn more.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer has opened 1,300 stores that are now open 24/7. Other corporate retailers are following suit, such as Home Depot, major office supply stores and even fitness clubs. One such fitness chain 24 Hour Fitness opened 400 clubs around the clock at a cost of $5 M annual. By investing in this extension of time and customer convenience they added $50 M in additional yearly revenue. They feel that this is a no-brainer way of increasing their gross income and additional profits.

Now I'm not saying you need to open your business 24/7, but by adding some additional hours you may be adding more convenience for your busy customer. A web presence can offer your customers information 24/7 even if you are not selling from your site. You are simply creating great customer service and convenience from an information-rich website anytime of the day.

Focusing on a quicker checkout can make for happier customers as well. Customers could spend an hour in a store shopping, but when it comes to checking out they want to get waited on fast and out the door. This is when the shift of power comes into play. A salesperson may be in control of the customer during a sale, but when that customer gets to the checkout counter they take control and a shift of power takes place. The customer then has the choice of making the final decision to buy or to put down the items and walk out of the door. They may feel that waiting too long in line has suddenly made them feel rushed or maybe even a little guilty for spending too much time shopping.

What are you doing to make it more convenient for customers to shop with you?
There are many ways your unique business can offer more convenience services to your busy customers. Just ASK! Yes, asking is key to your success. Ask your customers what convenient services would best fit their needs and make a change for greater service through convenience today! Then get busy implementing those ideas, concepts and service. When your customers see you take ACTION they will be impressed that you truly care enough to offer them more convenient service and will be committed to you for life. Getting a stronger focus on your customer base will help you to add more conveniences so pay attention to WHOM your customer really is.

Gaining Insight Into Your Customers
To be the best solution to your customers’ needs and solutions, you must first know who they are. To gain insight into your own specific situation and to re-focus on your main customer, ask yourself the following 7 important and revealing questions. For the best results, be brutally honest with yourself.
  1. What is the current state of your customer base?
    Do you have a strong understanding of your customer? Can you describe them by age, gender, sex, race, income level, needs, and concerns? If you can, are you developing your marketing to fit their needs and emotions? Is your existing customer base giving you increasing or decreasing sales? Do you need more customers or do you need customers who spend more money?

    Every business has good customers, and every business has customers who you wish you could fire. What is important is to focus on the profile of your best customers and market your business to them. Those good customers may want more quality, higher-end products, or different services than you currently offer. Re-evaluate the needs of your best customers and focus all your marketing efforts around those needs.

  2. Who is your competition?
    Business would be so easy if we had no competition. In fact, I doubt you would be reading this e-book if business was that easy. If you don’t already know who your competition is, start shopping around. Look at the competition from many different angles, not just those places that are directly competitive. Honestly evaluating your competition can teach you many lessons about your own business and where you can improve.

    If you do know who your competition is, start snooping around to discover what they are doing that is working. They may not have a perfect image or the best service either, but they must be doing something right or they wouldn’t be in business.

    Is your competition doing the same things you are doing? Are you doing them better? Can you do them to benefit your customers with convenience even more?

  3. Would you buy a pair of gym shoes in a formal wear store?
    What business are you really in? Is your business focused, or are you trying to be all things to all people? This is a common mistake among most small to mid-size businesses. Many try to offer everything product and/or service for everyone in fear of losing a customer. This will end up costing you much more in lost sales in the long run. There is no way you can be an expert or niche your business with a large diversity of products and/or services. Do what you do well, and let your customer know what you specialize in and make it easy from them to buy from YOU.

  4. What is your USP?
    What is your Unique Selling Proposition? In your customers’ eyes, what makes you different from all of the competition? What are you offering that no one else does? Is your business just in the inventory or service business? Or are you in the satisfaction business?

    “Doing a common thing uncommonly well brings success.”
    ~ Anonymous

    Southwest Airlines is successful not only because they offer the most competitive prices, but also because customers know what to expect from them: They are a low-priced, reliable airlines that delivers their service with fun and uniqueness. They make it easy to fly with them and offer the convenience of numerous flight times. So they just hand out peanuts? Who really likes airline food anyway? I never eat that stuff. I fly Southwest because they make it easy, they appreciate my business, and they run on time. Southwest has focused on what is most important to their customers and let go of the rest.

  5. Are you offering the services and products your customers want?
    Always keep your customers in mind with every decision you make. Everything you do should satisfy their needs. For example, if they work in the city and commute, stay open late a few nights so that they can do business with you when they get home. Or open up very early one day a week. Adjust your business to their lifestyle, and try different things to accommodate it.

    Are the products and/or services what your customers are looking for, or do they actually meet your needs and emotions? Are you ahead of the competition, a trendsetter within your industry? Are your customers looking for you to be a trendsetter, or do they want solid, enduring choices? For example: A retail clothing stores often miss out by jumping in at the tail end of a trend instead of taking chances and setting a trend. A customer who is looking for the latest will always perceive them as a follower. On the other hand, some buyers purchase inventory they find exciting and forget about what their customers want. This may seem crazy but it is sometimes hard to set aside your emotions and focus only on the customers’ needs.

    "I realized that it's not about what you think is cool. You've got to listen to what consumers want."
    ~ Bob Pittman

  6. How do you make your customers see they need to do business with you?
    You must grab customer’s attention by cutting through the clutter of their lives with blazing simplicity. It is crucial to concentrate on a core business and a core customer. Your image must be the connection between the two. The customer must instantly perceive who you are and what you are about. You will know when you have the right image because it feels right for everything you do. It is truly what your business is all about.
  7. Do you need new image that focuses on your rediscovered customer base?
    If you are considering repositioning, make a detailed focus plan. You don’t want to risk alienating old customers or confusing new ones. An image change is a leap of faith. Make sure your good customers can make that leap with you.
By answering these questions you have begun to refocus and re-evaluate your customer base and their needs. From your responses you will learn how to adjust and meet the needs of your core customer base. You will discover what makes your business unique and why customers want to do business with you instead of your competition. You will begin to offer more conveniences that will truly matter to them – creating more sales and profits in return!

Bio: Debbie Allen is one of the world’s leading authorities on sales and marketing. She is the author of five books including Confessions of Shameless Self Promoters and Skyrocketing Sales. Debbie has helped thousands of people around the world attract customers like crazy with her innovative, no-cost marketing strategies and secrets to sales success. Her expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur, Selling Power and Sales & Marketing Excellence.

Copyright Debbie Allen. All Rights Reserved.

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