Achilles was an ancient Greek warrior, the hero of the Trojan war who, in spite of tremendous advantages, fell in battle due to an unknown and unprotected vulnerability.
This is the plight of many businesses today. What they don’t see can be the very thing that drains momentum, robs from the bottom line and prevents reaching or sustaining profitability.
In the last 50 years business realities have changed drastically. Once it was enough to make a great product or service and offer it at a reasonable price in order to make money and be successful. The power was largely in the hands of businesses. Customers were content to buy and use what was available in the marketplace.
Fast forward to today and the center of power has shifted from the businesses to the customer. With the explosion of competition and choices in the market, customers can now easily move from one business offering to another as they choose. Add to that the emergence of social media and the easy access to information on the Internet available to every customer at all times, and businesses have very little power over the influences that drive customer choice.
What does this have to do with Achilles? Simply this; many businesses work very hard to develop their advantages in the marketplace by designing great products and services, buying and using cutting edge technologies in all phases of their business, etc., and yet fail to address an often unknown and therefore unprotected vulnerability.
What is that vulnerability? It has to do with the customer. Like Achilles’ unprotected heel, there is a vulnerability inherent with their customers, but the business doesn’t see it and therefore nobody does what needs to be done to make sure that vulnerability doesn’t turn into another fatality.
Here’s what it looks like.
- A customer of a business comes away from a sales experience unhappy, but the business is unaware of the negative sentiment. What happens?
- The customer is lost – this is a customer retention problem.
- The customer tells other people about his or her negative experience – this is a company reputation and marketing problem.
- A customer of a business comes away from a sales experience very happy and satisfied but never takes the initiative to speak up for the business in any ways that might have real and lasting impact for the business.
- On the one hand, a happy, satisfied customer is good for customer retention.
- But, on the other hand, it can also be a lost opportunity to build a positive reputation for the business in its marketplace.
How to solve this Achilles-problem in business.
✓ Know before they go – proactively identify customer satisfaction problems as close to the time of the negative sales experience as possible, in the store or place of business and before they have a chance to leave, so that they can be addressed and remedied.
✓ Turn negative experiences into positive ones by immediately addressing customer concerns, by solving problems and by building trust with customers who are not happy with the business. This can turn lost customers into customers for life.
✓ Prevent negative reports and damage to reputation by solving problems quickly with unhappy, unsatisfied customers before they have a chance to build up steam and vent on social media.
✓ Tap into a wellspring of positive feelings for the business by making it easy for happy customers to tell their story and praise the business where other customers and prospects will see and hear the good news.