October '13

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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Your Personal Business Trainer |||| your best to meet or exceed your customers' needs. When a rapport is cultivated, it leads customers to feel like family and be more inclined to buy from you again, buy more, try something different and recommend you to others. Customer-supplier partnerships have certain characteristics. They are anchored in generosity, grounded in trust, bolstered by a joint purpose and based on balance: relationships that are built on honesty, candor and straight talk. Certainly, these partnerships take more work than transient or temporary customer relationships, but they are greatly rewarded. The concept usually implies a long-standing relationship, but the feeling of partnership can be created in the short term. The degree of intimacy earned—and how quickly you experience it—will be based on commitment to unconditional, high-value service and customer-need satisfaction. A t the beginning of any customer-supplier relationship, the shopper sees the seller as an outsider, satisfying neither his professional nor personal needs. As the shopping experience unfolds, professional needs may be met—say, The right combination the store has a product in stock, for example—and the shop is Every customer has needs, and those needs can be separated into professional and personal needs. There are three kinds of viewed to be a vendor candidate. If, through conversation, the professional needs—image, performance and finance—and salesperson appears to offer what the buyer needs to satisfy a the professional needs of a particular prospect or client can personal need—for example, the store supports a charity cause often be ascertained by his/her title or role in the buying dethat the shopper also favors (affiliation)—the perspective of the cision. customer elevates from 'outsider' to 'friend.' For example, a purchasing agent who was given the responWhen a business can satisfy both a client's professional and sibility to procure something within a prescribed budget will personal needs consistently, a customer-supplier partnership is generally have a strong professional need for finance. A proformed and customer loyalty typically follows. Getting to partnerduction supervisor, shop foreman or end user of the product ship status doesn't commonly happen overnight. Usually, the salesmay have a stronger performance need. Image needs are usuperson must pass through either the 'vendor' or 'friend' quadrant ally related to a buyer's organizational ranking. to become a partner, and that route is dictated by the customer. Personal needs are tougher to pinpoint. The six types of personal needs are derived from the work of Abraham Maslow in the 1950s. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs research model categorized personal needs into achievement/accomplishment (self-actualization), recognition So, how is customer loyalty measured? and power/authority (esteem needs), affiliation (belonging), physical/psychological security That's like asking how to measure marand order (safety needs). riage, friendship, family or any other Without suggesting that a salesperson psychoanalyze a customer, she should be keenly human interaction. But the economobservant of the client's behavior, the questions he asks, the answers he gives and the comic benefits of customer loyalty do make ments he makes. Through observations, one or two of the personal needs will surface as themselves known, since the partnership being unmet and strong. is formed around business transactions. Consider this: energy spent on retaining customers has a higher return than energy Maintain balance spent on acquiring customers by at least You cannot expect customer loyalty without mutual respect, and that equality is balance in five to one, and some researchers say more. any relationship. Equality keeps both parties from feeling that they are giving away their Remember, people buy from people who hearts and souls just to please the other. Partnerships may never be consistently equal; they they like, trust and with whom it is convewill often shift. Most important is a partnership's overall balance in the aggregate, not its nient to do business. Good luck! balance on any given day. Both parties must participate to achieve this goal. pw 22 | Printwear PW_OCT13.indd 22 October 2013 9/17/13 8:49 AM

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