As we know, segmentation of our customers is one of the keys to growing revenues and profits. We also know that when planning your customer’s experiences with your businesses, the ideal segment size is 1.  That’s right, create experiences designed and delivered for each individual in each of your customer’s organizations.  Sound like crazy talk?  Lets see what other people say:

Dr. Tony Alessandra

“We have all heard of the Golden Rule-and many people aspire to live by it. The Golden Rule is not a panacea. Think about it: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Golden Rule implies the basic assumption that other people would like to be treated the way that you would like to be treated.”

The alternative to the Golden Rule is the Platinum Rule:

“Treat others the way they want to be treated.” Ah hah! What a difference. The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from “this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing” to “let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.”

Networking Group (WIND)

“…Unfortunately, many excellent candidates fail to get offers because of a simple mismatch in communication styles.

Quickly determining basic elements of your interviewers’ preferred styles and then adjusting your style to match is the key.  Doing this often brings instant rapport and the propensity to believe you.  You will get fewer probing questions and more information to boot.”

Tony Robbins (On Selling)

“Let your prospect determine your presentation”

Why is personalization so important?

There are two primary reasons why treating each person as an individual works:

  1. Doing business with you becomes easy
  2. When it is about them, not you, there is a groundswell of trust

Easy

The Corporate Executive Board did a study that showed that ease of doing business is a key driver of loyalty.  In fact, CEB proposed its Customer Effort Score (CES) as a replacement for the widely used Net Promoter Score (NPS) as the key performance indicator of choice for most businesses.  Others analyzed all the available data and determined that both metrics are looking at the same emotional response.  However, CES is actionable; you can find out which of your company’s behaviors frustrate a customer and which actually delight them. You can then fix the downers and keep the delighters!

Some specific behaviors that make companies easy to work with are:

  • Work hard to eliminate complexity
  • Communicate frequently using channels your customers use
  • Dig out and kill processes and policies that make customers work harder that they should
  • Train and empower your employees

This takes real determination but you will have a happier and more loyal customer base, your employees will feel better about the company, and your will be eliminating costs from your business.

Trust

Trust is a close ally of easy but has a slightly different approach. Increasing your customer’s feeling of trust means your customers will internalize that your business model is not “all about you”.  Your behavior will demonstrate that you take responsibility for your action and outcomes and, when you screw-up, you immediately take appropriate steps to completely “make it right.”   Some behaviors that will earn customer’s trust are:

Your communications are transparent and you don’t have important terms and conditions buried in 2-point font on page 6 of a 10-page contract for a routine business transaction.
You do what you say you will do. Keep promises and commitments. If in doubt, measure the say/do ratio.
Make yourself, and everyone else, available.  A recent study showed that less than 10% of Fortune 500 companies had a telephone number on their home page.  If you are a reasonably small company then follow the example of Continuum, a very innovative design and customer experience consultancy and showcase everyone.

Routinely communicate with your ecosphere – employees, customers, owners, suppliers, and partners.  This means listen lots and talk little but truthfully.

Next steps

While most of this advice is generic enough that it will impact all your customers you may want to go the extra mile for your key accounts. Reach out and make sure they believe you are both trustworthy and easy to do business.  Ask how you are doing.  Remember Ed Koch, the late mayor of New York City, who famously would walk up to whoever was around and said “How am I doing?”  It worked for him and it will work for you.