Who will your customers be in a year from now?

Who will your customers be in a year from now?

by Ron Pelger

The world has changed, and the food business has changed. The produce industry has changed even more. Today, if we don’t give customers what they want or how it’s presented to them, they’ll simply get it somewhere else.

No matter how you look at it, a great number of customers start out wanting to buy something but suddenly pull out. What’s it all about? What disturbed them to cause this to occur?

Did you ever wonder why there are abandoned shopping carts full of product left on a supermarket sales floor? How about a stack of rumpled brochures and sell sheets from a sales rep sitting off in the corner of a retailer’s office gathering dust?

A number of shoppers enter supermarkets and do not buy anything. Some start shopping, but then unexpectedly just leave the store. Why does this happen?

In a similar manner, some retailers listen to a sales product pitch from a rep but don’t buy anything. The retailer may even start to place an order but then cancel it.

You may call some customers “renegades” for these acts of jumping ship in the middle of the grocery aisles or at the produce buying desks… but perhaps poor service from some retailers and suppliers is driving them away.

A produce buyer once told me that he has service problems with a specific supplier at times. He related, “Some days, dealing with certain salespeople on the phone stresses me out. One day, I needed three loads of melons from a shipper and the salesperson got all bent out of shape by asking me where I thought he was going to find trucks.

He actually told me he couldn’t get us the melons unless I came up with the transportation. I ended up giving the business to another shipper who anxiously accepted my order and was most grateful.”

Did you know that 92-percent of people will do business with companies that influence them by their attitude? People talk to other people and a good experience makes them tell others something positive. A lousy experience makes people speak negative about a company. Who do you think will get the business?

Competing in our industry is fierce enough. Only the companies that show respect for their customers will make their reputation stand out in a very positive way. Good words get around, but negative words get around even faster. The attitudes have to start at the top with the CEO, president, vice president or owner.

One thing is for sure, customers will simply not put up with grouchy attitudes caused by inept people and companies now or at any time.

Customers want to put thousands of dollars in the hands of companies and some people actually send a negative message that “they don’t want it.” When customers call on a business, they have a lot of money to spend. If they leave on a sour note, they take their money somewhere else.

Give this a serious thought —— if your company has 5000 customers this year and many of those same customers become angered and dissatisfied with the way they are treated or serviced —— how many of them will be your customers next year?

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Jennifer Lawson



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