I’m in the middle of The Bear Necessities of Business by Maxine Clark. Maxine is a former president of Payless Shoe Source and the Founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop. She has a chapter entitled, “Bring Out the Child in Everyone.” Naturally, this credo resonates with me a great deal. I have also spent a lot of time on this blog and in presentations for business people about the importance of infusing a business with childlike spirit. Among other things, it improves customer loyalty and can fatten the bottom line. As Stanley Goodman, former CEO of May Department Stores said, “When the customer has fun they spend more money.” It’s natural for people who run a more strait-laced enterprise to disregard this advice. Here’s what Maxine says about that:
I know some of you “mature” readers are ready to close the book now or flip ahead to the next chapter. “I run a serious business that caters to adults, not kids,” you say. “What lessons could I possibly learn from you here?” The answer is, plenty!
Think about what it really means to be a kid. Having fun is certainly a part of it. But being a kid also means having few responsibilities, not needing to worry about things, and knowing someone else is around to take care of you. Aren’t those the same traits that customers demand of the companies they frequent?
You should make it as easy and pleasant as possible for people to do business with you. You’re taking care of them, not the other way around. You’re handling all the hassles, so they don’t have to worry about anything.
I think she makes a great point here. How often do you place an order with a company and end up having to monitor the process? Just recently, I was working with a manufacturer. I placed an order with them and after four weeks, I hadn’t heard anything about the status of my order. I called to investigate only to hear that they were still waiting for some more information from me. What if I hadn’t called? I wondered. Were they ever planning to let me know that they couldn’t proceed with my order? This is a situation that is more common than it should be.
So, if you’re in business, keep this in mind: eliminate the worries of your customers and they’ll help you eliminate your competition.
[tags]Build-A-Bear Workshop, Maxine Clark, business, customer service, customer loyalty[/tags]