If you havedefined the Guest role, you know by now the optimal length of a Guestrelationship and the annual or lifetime value of a Guest.
Let’s say thatlast year, several Guests surpassed those expectations. They reached a ten-yearmilestone, while your expectations were only five years. Other Guests havedoubled their business with you, while you only expected a modest 10% increasein business. What have you done for these Guests? How did you reinforce theirbehavior and demonstrate to them that you do not take this behavior forgranted?
I am notreferring to the token, generic chocolates you ask your secretary to send everyyear, or the free calendar you produce, which serves more as a freeadvertisement for your company than as a token of appreciation.
I am referringto serious, considerate gifts that show thought and appreciation. We somehowforget to demonstrate our appreciation for what they did for us all year long.But this is not the odd part. The odd part is the fact that, come next year, wewill expect them to do the same and even more.
Why is it that companies forget such an important Guest checkpoint?
There areseveral reasons for this puzzling behavior:
• Lack of Knowledge. We simply do not know whodoubled their business with us this year and who left us for the competition. Iam not referring to the anecdotal story of one big order, but to a systematic mechanismthat shows us Guest performance and compares it with the previous year’sperformance. Between lack of tools and lack of discipline, we simply do notknow.
• Guest as a Destination and Not as a Journey. Asmuch as we hate to admit it, we never structured the Guest relationship toinclude long-term planning and measurements. We rush from order to order andalways assume there will not be another one. Every Guest order is regarded asthe achievement of a superstar salesperson and not as a building block in arelationship. Thus we never bother to look at the long-term view but insteadreward the occasional order and not the accumulation of the relationship.
• Guest Is Taken for Granted. This we will neveradmit, but our culture glorifies new Guest acquisition. When our sales cultureis all about new Guests, and current Guests are sent to low-level accountmanagers, the message is obvious. Our sales force places emphasis on newaccounts and forgets the existing ones. It is called taking the Guest forgranted.
Rewarding Guestsis about maintaining and nurturing the relationship. It is about sending amessage of sincere appreciation. It is about making a greater bond for thefuture. But most of all it is a financial move to retain your most profitable Guestsand keep the revenues flowing. Think about rewarding Guests as a competitiveweapon. How much discount would you provide to beat your competition?
Now you have the opportunity to beat the competition before they show up.
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