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Sunday, Jun 24, 2018
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Dittmar: Knowing customers, what they need is critical

To me, nothing symbolizes frustration quite as much as watching someone try to free their new purchase from its plastic packaging. Nothing short of vice grips and a blowtorch will get that stuff off of a new razor, a thumb drive or an economy-sized twofer of vitamins!

No doubt you’ve wrestled with products that are impossible to pry open and electronic device tags even the clerk at Wal-Mart can’t remove. Why do companies do this? Because they’re so focused on what’s important to them that they don’t consider what’s important to you.

How do you keep your business from falling into the customer-unfriendly trap? Think about your product or service as if you were purchasing it. If you can’t do the mental switch, ask someone — or several someones — to do it for you. You need the customer’s perspective to make your product work.

You want my business? Before you can sell me anything, you have to know what my needs and wants are. Ask me questions to determine which of your products and services I need. Makeup for oily skin will not work on my dry skin. Likewise, I don’t need a massive all-the-bells-and-whistles washing machine for me and my husband. Just give me one that can handle our two loads a week.

It should be easy for me to understand what you sell. You know your products, but I don’t. Talk to me in layman’s terms so I truly know what you can do for me. But don’t tell me too much. Have you ever read a book and then gone to see the movie? Often, the movie was not at all what you expected. The characters don’t look at all like you imagined them, nor do the sets resemble what your mind conjured up. If you give me too many details of your product, it won’t match what I envision. Let my mind create my own impression and fill in the gaps.

And if purchasing what you’re selling takes too much of an effort, I’ll go elsewhere, even if what I end up with costs more or isn’t exactly what I wanted. If it’s easy for me to do business with you, I’ll stay. Do I have ways to contact you? Will you come to me instead of making me come to you? Is your website user-friendly?

Is it easy for me to use your products? Make sure I have all the tools I need. Is some assembly required? You do it. Will I need batteries? Provide them. Does it utilize a clock? Set it. It’s not that I’m lazy or can’t do these things for myself, but these extra touches will make me a loyal customer for life.

And please make it easy for me to return your products. It happens. If you make this process easy for me, I won’t become an unsatisfied customer who quits doing business with you.

Are you doing all this? Fantastic! Then I want to do business with you. Now, what do you have that I need?

Dana Dittmar is the CEO of the Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce.

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