What kind of experiences are your customers having?

I've got some acronyms that might help

Here’s a favorite business story I share with clients and students. I was working with a San Francisco Bay Area transportation company. The story begins when I entered their lobby for our first meeting. Behind the receptionist desk were these three-foot-tall letters, proudly displayed, impossible to miss: ETDBW.

The answer to the ETDBW riddle was the acronym, “Easy To Do Business With”. It’s so simple, yet it tells a powerful story about the attitude of this company and how it serves the needs of customers. To my way of thinking, it completely encapsulated the organization’s mission statement, how fellow workers treat fellow workers, (internal workers are consider customers as well) and how they approach delivering on their customer promise, every time, everyday.

I’ve incorporate this model with my clients but have taken it a few more steps. Are you easy to do business with, (every day, every time) Why? And how do you know?

There’s a challenge, it’s a much a scorecard for your customers by which you’ll be measured. This type of measurement also provides feedback, sets expectations and means you need to stay on your game. That said, remember this: There are two forms of customer feedback.

1. Your customers who care enough to let you know about your performance to ETDBW standards.

2. Those customers who leave you because your competitor is EDTBW. The feedback comes when they don’t return your calls or email. Silence… ouch!

It’s my conviction that organizations that don’t adopt, commit to and live by ETDBW will soon (and should) be gone.

Thereby, I’ve put together my own acronym around building ETDBW.

E: Effectively Direct Organizational Energy to deliver on your customer promise, every time, everyday. Granted this may sound painfully obvious. (It may be obvious, but why do so few organizations engage in it?) So here are a few keys points.

  • Strategic acquisition of customers must be focused on customer retention. In other words, don’t spend your money on acquiring customers your not prepared to devote heart and soul to keep. I recommend at a minimum five-year customer acquisition/retention strategy window.
  • All internal systems execute/collaborate on ETDBW, then consistently acquire/measure customer feedback. The feedback must be operational and actionable.
  • Fully understand customer acquisition/retention costs. In other words, what does it cost your organization to “buy” a customer? If you don’t know you’ll be staggered at this cost. When I ran a national accounts team, my customer acquisition costs were between $1,200 and $1,500 per sales call. (That didn’t mean we sold something ― that was the cost to send someone on a face-to-face meeting.)
  • Lastly, fully understand your customer churn ratios, and understand who’s coming in and who’s going out, along with cost ratios, your customer lifetime value, break-even analysis, etc.

T:Target your customer acquisition; randomness kills organizations.

  • Leave nothing to chance here, if you know how much it costs to buy your customers, you’ll know why top line is not as important as bottom line. In other words, more customers don’t always equate to higher profitability. As a matter of fact it can bring an organization to its knee’s. Anyone who can fog a mirror is not a solid customer strategy.
  • The more targeted you get with your customer acquisition as a function of your organizational branding, the easier it gets. In other words, if you make fudge donuts, a health food store may not be your ideal customer. Know your brand and what it means in the market. You can build a brand around ETDBW. 

D: Delivery. 

  • Delivery is not just delivering a product as expected; it means going beyond what every other company out there is providing.  What differentiates us from the masses is how we deliver. Remember, ETDBW and delivering on your customer promise, every time, every day.

B: Beginning.

  • hy not now? There’s no time like the present, it’s never too late to be the rock star in your industry.

W: Two for the price of one — Weave and Wondering.

  • Weave your customer acquisition/retention strategy into your organizational strategy. Or better yet, make your customer acquisition/retention strategy your only strategy. Simply put, never forget who pays your bills and is the final arbiter of your success.
  • Wondering about the experience your customers experience when they work with you? As the business owner or company executive, when was the last time you were in front of your top revenue-producing customers, when was the last time you sought feedback from a customer who left, what’s your consistent methodology for gathering data on brand strength, sales processes, delivery times, customer churn ratio’s, cost of acquisition, customer support.  If you sit at your desk looking at your CRM funnel or chatting with your salespeople about how things are going “out there”, your boat is sinking.

I’ll throw one last acronym into the mix, GBTB. It stands for “Get Back to Basics” to create a radically prosperous business one must respect the fundamentals and the discipline to becoming customer-centric and directing all organization energy on delivering on your customer promise every time, every day. Commit, live and GBTB to ETDBW!

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