What Kind of Paperboy Are You?

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When it comes to customer service, one size definitely does not fit all! And yet many companies treat their customers as if they were all cut from the same cloth. Sure this makes things easier, cheaper, and more efficient. But it sure doesn’t create loyal customers!

Motivational Speaker Bill Stainton

A long time ago, shortly after the dinosaurs died off, I had a paper route. The boy who had the route before me took it very seriously, and he passed that ethic on to me. So, for the next four or five years, I woke up at 4:30 every morning, Monday through Saturday. I didn’t have to wake up at 4:30, but I never wanted my customers to have to wait for their morning paper. I wanted to have their paper waiting for them as soon as they woke up. And not just waiting for them; waiting for them where they wanted it. The Campbells, for example, liked their paper delivered to the side door, under the mat. The Playters, on the other hand, wanted the paper delivered at the back of their house, inside the screen door. Each customer had their own preference, and I made it my job to learn those preferences.

In those days, the average holiday tip for a paperboy was $5. My average was $20.

Customer service pays off.

The person who currently delivers my newspaper (and yes, I still like getting an actual newspaper) tosses it out of his or her car at the end of my long driveway. This is okay, I suppose, when it’s nice and sunny (and I’m dressed). It kind of sucks in the rain and snow. But my paper carrier never asked me where I want my paper. That lack of customer service is reflected in their holiday tip.

So how are you treating your customers? Are you doing the equivalent of just tossing their newspaper out of your car at the end of the driveway? Or are you finding out what they’d actually prefer, and finding ways to serve them according to their preferences?

Very few companies, I’ve found, ever go to the trouble of finding out just what it is that their customers really value about the company. As a result, they often end up focusing on the wrong thing. They focus on the thing they think their customers value the most, but many times the truth is something completely different. In fact, according to Jaynie Smith, CEO of Smart Advantage, a marketing consultant with clients like Kraft Foods and Zurich Insurance Group, more than 90 percent of companies get it wrong!

To make sure you don’t make that mistake, try doing the following:

1. Come up with a list of services and benefits that you offer.

Include things like, “Fast service,” “Easy to talk to a real person on the phone,” “Range of services,” “Convenient location,” or whatever is relevant to your company.

2. Reach out to your customers.

Depending on the size of your company, you can do this in person, through a service like SurveyMonkey, via a USPS mailing, or by hiring an outside contractor who specializes in customer feedback.

3. Ask your customers to rank, in order, their top five reasons for doing business with you.

In addition to the list that you and your team came up with in step 1, be sure to include an “Other” space. Your customers may surprise you with something you never even thought of!

4. Listen to what they say, and make changes if necessary!

Have you ever filled out a survey, then waited patiently, and NOTHING CHANGED? Okay, so you know what it feels like. So don’t do that with your customers!

Listen to your customers—and make changes if necessary! #customerservice #leadership Click To Tweet

As a paperboy, my reward for listening to my customers and giving them what they want was larger holiday tips. As a business leader, your reward will be more loyal—and therefore more profitable—customers.

Question: What methods have you used to find out what your customers really want and really value? Please leave a comment in the Comments section below so that other leaders can benefit from your experience.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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