Did you know that your business could be suffering from a disease! A virus, if you like, that is so widespread you may not even know it’s lurking below the seemingly innocent surface of your business.
It’s something you may have even felt while you were a customer of other businesses, without realising the same thing could be happening to yours!
This mystery virus is ‘perceived indifference.’
It’s really interesting, you know. When asked, most business owners will say their customers are price-sensitive. They’ll say customers only purchase if the price is right and, in fact, that most actually enquire about price right from the word ‘go.’
Think about this for a moment. If you were asked the same question, would your hand be raised in agreement?
You may feel this is true for your business. But let’s examine this further.
The issue of price versus value and service has been a hot topic practically from the day trade and commerce began. Because of this, many studies have been completed to analyse exactly why customers buy.
In the search for some answers, one survey done by the Technical Assistance Research Program in Washington looked, perhaps more importantly, at why customers don’t buy from you or why they leave you and move to a competitor. I’ll show you the results of this survey in a moment.
So let’s look at the survey. People were asked this question:
‘Why do you choose not to deal with a business or to leave a business and go to a competitor?’
The results time and again have been astounding. They can be broken into 5 categories. Let’s look at each of the categories (including the 5th item, which I’ve left blank) in more detail now.
As you do that, think about the percentage of people you think shop or purchase on that basis. Have a guess without looking at the numbers below as to what you think each category would be.
1.Convenience: This means a person would choose not to deal with a business or would leave that business because it’s more convenient to purchase elsewhere.
2.Relationship at a high level: This means that a person close to you, for example, opened a new business or moved to another company and you want to continue dealing with that person. It could be a close friend or a family member. Whoever it is, you’d rather deal with that individual because you have an important relationship.
3.Miscellaneous: ‘Miscellaneous’ is simply those reasons that couldn’t be categorised clearly.
4.Product/price/time: This actually means potential customers want a certain product or service, at a certain price, whenever they want it—for example, right now, next week, or what have you. For argument’s sake, let’s just say this category is price, so this group represents people who don’t buy because of price.
5.________________ ?: And finally, you’ll notice this 5th category I have intentionally left blank. This area is critical. In the blank space provided, think about the word you think best represents the missing reason why people would choose not to buy or to leave a business.
Now before the mystery category and the results of this survey are revealed, it’s important to note that this survey has been completed in every western nation since the end of World War II. And interestingly, the results varied little every time.
So let’s start with the mystery category. What did you think that was?
Most people say the missing item is ‘service’ or ‘quality.’
Actually it’s…‘perceived indifference.’
Perceived indifference is literally that. Your customers or potential customers feel you or your team members are indifferent toward them. Indifferent meaning they’re given the impression you couldn’t care less if they purchased from you or not. Looking at it another way, customers feel nobody really cares about them or their needs.
So let’s review the actual results…
Relationship at a high level9%
Virtually 7 out of 10 enquiries (or customers you lose) walk away because they feel your business is indifferent toward them.
7 out of 10 inquirers who fail to purchase from you are doing so because they felt your business didn’t care enough, didn’t take time for them, and really didn’t make a difference! That’s just amazing.
Think about how much that could be costing you!
Looking at that statistic, it could mean as much as three-quarters of all the hard-earned dollars you’re spending on your marketing and advertising is being wasted. Literally thrown away.
This is an interesting point, too. Most business owners or managers are constantly looking to generate more leads, to get that phone to ring even more often, or to have more people come into their businesses. Focusing on these issues can be expensive because more and more money must be spent on advertising and other tools to generate new inquiries.
These statistics show that a far more leveraged way to grow your business may be to simply do more with the inquiries you’re getting!
You’ve spent hard-earned dollars on marketing and advertising only to have people not deal with you because, despite that, they feel your business doesn’t care enough.
Importantly, you’ll notice, too, that only 15% of the market shop or purchase on price alone.
It’s obvious that some industries are more price-sensitive than others and that these results may vary for your business because of that. But it’s critical to remember that this survey has been completed the world over, in every walk of life. As such, it’s vital to understand that the vast majority of people really do purchase along these lines.
The fact is, even if you feel these results may only be partially true for your business, you’ll still be facing an opportunity to INCREASE sales.
Let’s look at some reasons why business owners, managers, and team members alike might feel price is a big issue.
Yours might be the kind of business where either on the phone or face-to-face, an inquiry starts with something like this: ‘How-much-is-it?’ or ‘I want to find out the price of an XYZ.’
Now think about what most businesses say when asked that sort of question. That’s right. The price.
For example, ‘OK, that’d be $40, $400, or $4,000,’ whatever the price actually is. Sure enough, many potential customers (the potential customer you’ve paid to have call or visit you through your advertising costs) then say, ‘Thanks very much. I’ll get back to you.’
Mostly, they never do. They call 2 or 3 other suppliers of the same sort of product or service—your competitors—and ask the same question.
Unfortunately, your competitors do the same thing when they call—give them the price and let them go. And here’s the crunch. At that point, would your potential customers have anything else to judge you by except for price? Frankly, no.
And most business owners complain about people who shop on price alone! If your business handles price inquiries this way, you couldn’t possibly expect your customers do anything but! In this example, you’ve given them no reason other than price to choose you or a competitor.
To add to that, you haven’t given them any reason to believe you aren’t indifferent toward them. In fact, it would appear you were.
Not only that, the business has failed to take the customer’s cue. You see, most people only ask about price as a place to start, yet most businesses assume this question is the start andfinish. And from the customer’s point of view, nobody bothered to ask what they want the product or service for or to do for them. Nobody asked what they were really after—what type, colour, number, make, when they would need it by, or how they wanted to pay for that. Plus, the business lets the customer get off the phone without capturing any follow-up details.
All of these points are critical because these or similar points offer you a great, easy, and cost-effective way to stand out from the crowd!
Some examples for you..
Think about perceived indifference for a moment. Who have you dealt with as a customer this week? Who treated you with indifference? Treated you in a way that made you feel, in hindsight, they were indifferent toward you. That, essentially, they didn’t really care about you.
It could have been a retailer whose 2 store assistants kept chatting while you stood there waiting to be served. It could have been a company that takes forever to answer the phone. So much so that you check the number and call again. Or perhaps a business that puts you on hold without asking permission or, worse yet, left you hanging on the phone for minutes.
It could have been team members who passed the buck from one to another, so by the end of the visit or phone call you had told your story 5 times and still had no help. Another might have been a supplier’s sales representative, who arrived late for an appointment you had squeezed into your busy day, or who didn’t show up at all. It could have been as simple as someone who didn’t return your calls.
Perhaps it could have been a supplier of products or services that didn’t deliver on time or, to make matters worse, didn’t bother to inform you about the delay. It could be as simple as someone who never thanked you for being a customer or for stepping into the store or calling that business on the phone.
It could be a business that merely gave you a price for something, when you were really calling to find out more.
Perceived indifference…make sure you and your team are aware of it and don’t suffer from it in your future.
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