Everything in life has a life cycle. You, your dog, your car, and yes, your business. Taking this “life cycle” truth to another level and applying it to business starts with visualizing your customers as having a life cycle. Your “customer life cycle” is like a front to back, beginning to end, plan of action for every single interaction (or ”touch”) your company has with every single customer, all wrapped up in a neat little document.
I truly believe that the reason most businesses fail, is not because of a knowledge problem, but because of a behavior problem. When it comes down to it they are just not detailed enough, they are not meticulous enough, they are not specific enough, and, really, they just don’t execute the common sense procedures everyone should have in their business. You have to WANT to do these things, or reading this blog can never help you. Every little thing matters. Every thing.
Why does someone bother creating a “customer life cycle”? Because in the end it will hopefully produce a very valuable harvest. Think long term about your business and always remember to “Begin with the end in mind.” We have Stephen Covey to thank for that quote.
My business trains our staff to execute the procedures of “Customer Life Cycle” every single time. Here are the five main “Touches” we have with our customers throughout the process.
Keep in mind that a copy of this “CLC” document is included with your E-Book purchase. The E-Book is full of crazy awesome content to help you grow your business, click the link to take a look. There is even a free sample chapter for you to preview!
People say that first impressions are important and I tend to agree. Imagine a future customer calling three local companies to get pricing for a product or service. Your company should stand out like a sore thumb from the initial interaction with them over the phone. This is where it all begins. This is the “genesis” moment for all new customers. You can’t screw up the estimate phase or you’re never getting anywhere.
1. The Estimate Phase – Plant the seed
- Answer Phone – Sounds simple, right? But seriously, this is HUGE. If the “other guy” isn’t answering his phone, you are almost guaranteed an opportunity to go out and give this customer an estimate.
- Pre-scripted – Have a script for the initial phone conversation. Make your script memorable and friendly. First impressions matter!
- High Energy – Pretty self-explanatory. Be engaged and genuinely excited to have the opportunity to earn this customer’s business.
- Over-the-Top Friendly – How often do you call a business and speak to someone who is overly friendly? Not fake friendly, real friendly. You would remember if you did, right? Again, first impressions.
- Set Estimate – Give a specific date and time for the estimate. Work around their schedule. Go out of your way to make it convenient for the customer.
- 24 Hour Rule – Make them your priority. Get them an estimate ASAP, within 24 hours.
- Give Estimate – Previously set appointments have a 20 percent higher close rate and over $100 higher average ticket. Take the time to meet in person.
- The Arrival- Be professional, and be present. Pull up to the house ready to engage the customer.
- Over The Top Friendly – Again, real friendliness goes a long way.
- On Time – This is a BIG deal. Customers expect you to give them a 4 hour window, or to be late. Blow them away by being there when you said you would.
- Clean Vehicle/Technology – Keep your sales vehicle clean, inside and out. This is another part of first impressions. If you roll up in a dirty old junker with McDonald’s cups falling in their driveway when you get out of the car, it’s a bad first impression. Be clean, and professional. Also, implement procedures using technology to make the estimate phase as quick and easy as possible.
- The Walk Around – Take the time to walk around the property and thoroughly investigate the situation. Make detailed notes and suggestions for the customer.
- Identify Needs – Figure out which services are a necessity for the customer, and which are possibilities. All customers get a price for everything, even if they didn’t ask for it. They may decide to add a service after seeing it identified on their estimate.
- The Pitch – Be professional and direct without being pushy. Make your expert recommendation.
- Over The Top Friendly – A little repetitive, I know, but this is a BIG DEAL!
- Consultative – Be consultative, let the customer know that you have their best interest in mind. Try using statements like ” I recommend,” or “If it were me, I would”, or ” In my opinion”. But always be truthful, a customer will likely be on the defense because they expect to be taken advantage of. NEVER try to manipulate the situation.
- Highly Personalized Estimate Sheet – Each customer is unique, so each estimate should be unique as well. Take lots of detailed notes, highlighting any special requests made by the customer. A great way to be unique is to include a picture of the customer’s house on the estimate sheet. Take a picture and print right in the driveway, it’s a very personal touch that will surprise your customer in a good way!
- Soft Referral Ask #1 – Being polite and over-the-top friendly, make your first referral ask. A great way to do this is to offer a “Group Scheduling Discount”, if they can get their neighbors to hire you and schedule their job for the same day it’s a win-win. They get a discount and you get more business!
2. The Scheduling Phase – Let it germinate
- Answer Phone – Always, always, always.
- Pre Scripted – Have a different, but equally awesome script for the 2nd phone interaction. Make sure to genuinely thank the customer for deciding to hire you!
- High Energy – Be excited, you just got some business!
- Over The Top Friendly – Can’t say it enough. Real, genuine, friendliness all around.
- Set Appointment – Set a specific date and time for the job to be done. Make the customer your priority, work with their schedule as much as possible.
- Up-sell – While speaking with the customer, read the estimate. Take the opportunity to ask the customer if they are interested in any additional services. For example, in the window cleaning business this could be screen and track cleaning.
- Email confirmation – Send a quick e-mail to confirm the date and time of the appointment and be sure to include any other special notes you may want the customer to have.
- Direct Referral Ask #2 – Be just as polite this time, but more direct. They have decided to hire you now, you want them to get their friends on board too. A great way to start could be, “We are a small, family-owned business and we thrive off of referrals, would you be willing to tell your friends and family about us?” . Simple, direct, and polite.
3. The Service Phase – Water it
- Initial Arrival – Be on time, be professional. Have an initial scripted greeting and be consistent. You want your customer to feel like they are receiving a high end service.
- Touch #1 – Interact with the customer, let them know that you are here to serve them and will do what it takes to make sure they are satisfied.
- Over The Top Friendly – You get the point.
- Work Performed – Do the job and do it right. Make sure your work is methodical, efficient, and high end.
- Be Consistent – Have consistency and do quality work the same way, every time.
- Touch #2 – This is another opportunity for you to identify the customer’s needs. Use a statement like, “I noticed ________ , I recommend ________.”
- Over The Top Friendly
- Walk-Around – Do an inspection, make sure all the work was done at a high level.
- Touch #3 – Final interaction with the customer, make sure they are pleased with the job.
- Over The Top Friendly
- Direct Referral Ask #3 – Okay, now you’ve done the work and the customer is pleased. This is the perfect time to make another referral ask. You could use something like this. “Mr. / Mrs. ________ are you pleased with the job I’ve done today? Great. Would you please consider doing me a favor. We are a small family-owned business and we would love a referral…”
4. The Follow Up Phase – Expose it to sunlight
- Phone Call – Make a follow-up phone call to the customer to ensure that they are happy with their product or services.
- Pre Scripted – Have a professional, direct, and engaging script prepared.
- Over The Top Friendly – You guessed it.
- Direct Referral Ask #4 – There is no such thing as too many referrals, and you won’t get them unless you ask. Remember, be polite and direct. “Mr. / Mrs. ________ were you pleased with the job we did? Great. Would you please consider doing us a favor. We are a small family-owned business and we would love a referral…”
- Email – Send a brief follow-up e-mail. Really cover your bases, making contact with the customer should be a priority.
- Anonymous Survey – Attach an anonymous survey to the e-mail. When people know things are anonymous they tend to be more honest. You want real, honest feedback about you business so you can make it better.
- Direct Referral Ask #5 – Include another referral ask in the e-mail or survey. Multiple asks helps your request stay fresh in the customer’s mind. “Were you pleased with the job we did? Great. Would you please consider doing us a favor. We are a small family-owned business and we would love a referral…”
5. The Thank You Phase – Wait and watch it grow
- Personalized Thank You card – This is awesome. When you get a personalized piece of mail, not a bill or a piece of junk, you get excited, right? And if you got a Thank You card from a business it would make an impression, right?
Sending Thank You cards to each customer could be tedious and time-consuming, but if you use “Send Jim” it is easy, efficient, and inexpensive. Click the link, check it out.
- Direct Referral Ask #6 – One more thing to include at the bottom of your Thank You card. Just a quick reminder for the customer, staying fresh in their mind.
In summary, the little things are the really, really big things. You MUST have a plan of attack like this in place for your business in order to take it to the next level. You can’t implement these kinds of procedures without a step-by-step plan. I can guarantee you that 99 percent of your competition is not doing something like this, at least not at this level, and your customers WILL NOTICE. They will notice BIG time. You will begin to reap the harvest almost immediately as long as you follow through and actually do these things inside your own business. Referrals will start doubling, even tripling and your average job ticket will start creeping up, up, up. Most importantly, you will make it very difficult for your customers to leave you in the future. Your customer life cycle is like a plant that you grow and nurture from a seed. After the right items are put into place and you begin doing them every single day, an amazing thing will start to happen, your seed will grow, and grow, and grow.
Remember, your customers will never know how thoroughly you have planned their entire customer experience, but they will know that your company is far from normal. Your company will begin to feel more expensive and in the long run, you can charge higher prices without resistance. This is because every time they interact with you and your staff, the communication is noticeably better than “normal”. All because you did the leg work to create and implement your own “Customer Life Cycle” document.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. For more information on Send Jim visit the website www.sendjim.com
Take care and may God Bless the work of your hands.