The new customer has arrived in the new world have you

August 17, 2009
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The customer is making a comeback — slow though it may be. And when he (or she) returns, you’re going to notice a change. A big change.

Fair warning: How you prepare for the new customer will determine your long-term success.

Reality: While your customers were away, online officially took over. It’s the new showroom and comparison shopper. You can chat or phone in a heartbeat. You can see every option and some you never knew existed. It’s fast, it’s accurate, and anyone can choose anything, any time of the day or night.

Yes, the Internet has been here for a few years, but it has taken a firm hold as a trillion dollar option for consumers and customers every place in the world — your world.

It’s a different world now. We are not going to “recover” per se. We’re going to revive and revise. And you can be in it or you can watch it pass you by.

Here are some examples of “different” on the business side. Car dealerships, stock brokerages, insurance companies, banks, homebuilders, commercial real estate agents, residential real estate agents and mortgage lenders have all revised and restructured their business — and that’s the short list.

And the customer is different too — way different. Let me give you the details of what the new customer (both business and consumer) looks like. (NOTE: I’m using “he” but I also mean “she.”)

He’s going to decide somewhat more slowly. He’s been hesitating for more than a year.

He’s angry about the value of his home and the value of his investments.

He will not be doing business the same way it’s been done before.

He will not be banking the same way he banked before.

He will not be advertising the same way he advertised before.

He will not be buying a car the same way he did before.

He will not be buying a home the same way he did before.

He will not be investing the same way he did before.

He’s online, checking out your Web site — and your competitor’s Web site.

He’s socializing, telling everyone what’s happening in his world and the world.

He’s using Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Social media is still a firestorm.

He’s blogging about his experiences with you, for the world to read.

He’s YouTubing about his experiences with you for the world to watch — by the millions (any questions United Airlines?).

He’s Googling, not yellow-paging.

He’s texting — a lot.

He’s using his mobile device to do damn near everything.

He’s WiFi-ing in his hotel room, on the plane, in Starbucks and at home.

IF he’s reading a paper, or getting the news, it’s online.

He’s as likely to watch “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report,” or listen to Howard Stern for news as he is to watch a network “news” person read a teleprompter.

He’s purchasing after midnight — by the billions.

He’s looking for ease of doing business with you.

He is value oriented, but will look to price as part of the decision.

He wants a relationship.

He wants, needs and expects great service after the sale.

He does not want to wait for anything or anyone.

He needs help and expert advice.

He’s looking for ideas and answers.

He can check your price and your facts in two seconds or less on Google.

He knows as much about your product as you do.

He knows more about your competitor’s product than you do.

He can pay right now IF you can take a credit card online.

He expects someone to answer the phone when he calls that can actually help.

He is sick of off-shore call centers, erroneously called “help desks.”

He is sick of you telling him how important his call is while he stands on hold.

He is sick of your recorded hold message.

He demands the truth — all the time.

He no longer trusts the institutions he used to hold sacred.

He expects you to be as computer literate as he is.

He needs to be understood and feel your sincere concern.

While you are qualifying him, he is qualifying you.

If he needs a referral or recommendation, he’ll go to Craig’s list or Angie’s list or Google or his next door neighbor, or anyone but you … unless you have video testimonials online.

As you’re thinking about (and making excuses about) these statements, you’d better be thinking about your answers and responses to them. And you’d better make the strategic decisions and game plans to make them happen.

The economy is coming back — but not to the way it was. Don’t take my word for it. Ask any daily newspaper.

After reviewing these statements, ask yourself this BIG question: Will your new customer buy from you or your competition?

Free Git-Bit: For one final warning that is only available online, go to www.gitomer.com and enter the words NEW CUSTOMER in the GitBit box. Jeffrey Gitomer can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail salesman@gitomer.com.

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