Notes on Negotiation:
Written by Marty Latz, Latz Negotiation Institute
“I got the call Friday afternoon. They were desperate. A crisis at their hotel put them in a real bind – and they needed all their sheets laundered and delivered by Monday morning.
What did we do? We pulled everyone in on Saturday and worked all weekend to get the job done. Frankly, we could have charged them a ton as we had strong leverage. But we didn’t. They were a good customer. And they’ve been a great and loyal customer ever since, even though we charge premium prices for our services.”
This story, told to me years ago by a training program participant, highlights the “above and beyond” service that we can all do to develop and strengthen customer loyalty. Not just meeting but exceeding your customers’ expectations is perhaps the most important move to generate this loyalty.
Here are four others in this crucial and constant negotiation with your customers:
Nurture your personal and professional relationships with your customers, and do it in social settings like over meals or at sporting events, etc. And don’t ask for anything in return. This is your “thank you” for their business – and it communicates that you care.
Keep your fingers on your customers’ pulses and regularly explore and confirm their fundamental interests. They may change over time.
Brainstorm with your customers to find new and creative ways to satisfy their interests.
Every so often give them a “great customer” discount for no reason other than for being a great customer. It doesn’t have to be a lot. It’s the message sent that’s important.
Finally, answer their calls promptly and be responsive, sincere, friendly, positive and professional. This should go without saying. But I’m often surprised at how frequently these are lacking when I’m the customer.
I sold children’s shoes at a department store when I was in high school, and we gave refunds to anyone who returned their shoes for whatever reason– no questions asked. Did some take advantage of this? Yes. But the vast majority did not and came back every year for their kids’ new shoes.
Latz’s Lesson: Building customer loyalty takes time, effort and strategy. But it pays off in the end.
Marty Latz is the founder of Latz Negotiation Institute, a national negotiation training and consulting company, and ExpertNegotiator, a Web-based software company that helps managers and negotiators more effectively negotiate and implement best practices based on the experts' proven research. He is also the author of Gain the Edge! Negotiating to Get What You Want (St. Martin’s Press 2004). He can be reached at 480-951-3222 or Latz@ExpertNegotiator.com
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