Orlando Scandrick Jersey Business survival skills in a terrible economy | www.LdsCoaching.com
  Business survival skills in a terrible economy
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Business survival skills in a terrible economy

Dear Dr. Elia,

The economy has been really tough lately on my business, and as a result it's also affecting my relationships at home. The stress is taking its toll. I own a small business and for many years we had steady growth. Now the competition for my customers is more fierce than ever. My business is totally customer-driven. What can I do to reverse this trend even in a bad economy? I'd welcome any suggestions.

Desperate in Utah


Dear Desperate in Utah,

Let me assure you that you are not alone in your predicament. I hear the same concerns from readers, friends and clients on a daily basis. Although there is no magic solution, there are certain things you can do to improve customer satisfaction and regain their loyalty. Having a successful business means having successful customer relationships.

I'd like to introduce you to a concept called DTE, which stands for Define The Expectations. Here's what it means: the greater the gap between reality and expectations, the more disappointment, stress and dissatisfaction you have in your relationships. When reality meets expectations, this equals happiness, and on rare occasions when reality exceeds expectations this equals joy! Now we've all felt what it's like to have something extraordinary happen, which we didn't expect, and it feels great!

So how does this work in practical terms in our relationships at work or at home? Let's start with our customers/clients. When the economy's booming it is easier to go through the motions, doing the minimum required because we have so many customers to deal with. It's not that we don't care about our customers, but sometimes we take them for granted as we're busy chasing the next opportunity.

That may work OK when times are good, but in the current economic market that's not going to work. As you said, the competition is fierce for our customer base.

Now more than ever it is important to understand our customers' expectations and how to best serve them. Depending on the type of businesses we're in, we can ask for their feedback and ways that we can improve our levels of service.

Most people are open to sharing their opinions when asked in the following manner: "What can we do to serve you better? Can you give us some specific ways that can make our product/service be more beneficial to you?"

This is the best way to understand our customers' expectations because it comes directly from them. If we're open, honest and sincere in our attempts to gather this valuable information, I promise you, we'll get it.

A word of caution however: If we gather this information and then do nothing to implement it, our customers will lose trust, see us as unreliable and will go with the better offer of our competitors. Loss of customers means loss of income, which produces stress not only for our business but also for our homes.

On the positive side, when we clearly understand the expectations our customers have of us and we meet them consistently we earn their trust! The key word is doing it consistently! If however, we choose to exceed their expectations, then we earn their loyalty! That's when we have a customer for life.

In my experience loyal customers are your best source of marketing, and it's free! They will begin to refer to you family members, friends and acquaintances and other businesses who in turn will do the same as they become loyal customers.

There is no gimmick or trick to getting this done. It's simply based on the above principle. Clearly understanding their expectations and then exceeding them in a manner that distinguishes you from the competition. These principles apply not only to our clients/customers but also to our employees, colleagues, family members and in essence to all our vital relationships.

We cannot control the global economic forces, but we can control our own immediate environment!