Monthly Archives: May 2010

Avoiding CompetitionProof Goofs

I’m astounded at how companies squander the opportunity to delight a customer and cement the relationship, creating a CompetitionProof situation. The problem comes from well-meaning managers who create policy that destroys customer relationships at the cost of a single transaction.

For example, Thursday I was in Houston with HP working on content for the next event tour. At the end of the day, my host took me to a new upscale restaurant called Martinis and More. They’re newly opened and have been hustling for business in a competitive market.

As I was digging into my Cobb salad (wonderful, by the way), a well-dressed executive approached the bar: “Can I still order a happy hour drink?”

The bartender replied, “I don’t think so. It’s up to the computer. “Why would ANY manager want a computer to drive the relationships that they have with customers?

Do you want a transaction or a repeat customer?

CompetitionProof strategies don’t work if all you want is a single transaction–like a door-to-door magazine salesperson. But if you’re business thrives on repeat customers, then consider this CompetitionProof concept: the customer is more important than the transaction.

If a repeat customer is more important than a single transaction, then the staff must have options to delight the customer, creating the unshakable relationship that makes you CompetitionProof. Imagine if the bartender had the flexibility to say, “Although happy hour’s over, I think that I can get you one more round because I’d like for you to be a regular!” What do you think would happen to that executive’s opinion of the restaurant?

A secret of becoming CompetitionProof is to make sure that your customer treatment doesn’t go unnoticed. 

Building up favors with customers brings them back.

By the bartender adding the last phrase, he’s banking the favor and creating the CompetitionProof relationship with the customer that means they’ll be back. This tactic can be used intentionally.

What if the management allowed bartenders to override the computer and grant happy hour prices for about 10 minutes after the official end? What do you think would happen to customer relationships during that time? How can you do this with your business?

Perhaps you can offer sale prices to a customer for a day or two after the sale ends. Maybe you can extend a special offer a day or two before it becomes available to other customers. (Nordstrom has sold me more shoes this way: “This other shoe that you like goes on sale next week. I can send it to you then at the sale price. I’ll even cover shipping. Would that be okay?”)

Back to the story… the good news is that the gentlemen got his drinks at happy hour prices–apparently the bartender’s watch was fast.

The bad news is that the establishment missed an opportunity to create a CompetitionProof experience. And that’s a CompetitionProof Goof!