For any business to make profit and survive, it must have enough (loyal) customers. The decision of Dr. Michael LeBoeuf to write this book entitled “How to Win Customers & Keep Them for Life” is therefore commendable. LeBoeuf is an internationally published author, business consultant and dynamic professional speaker. For over twenty years, he was a professor of management at the University of New Orleans, retiring at age of forty-seven.
Companies ranging from Fortune 500-sized corporations to small banks and medical practices turn to LeBoeuf whenever they are in need of solid, practical ways to live and work smarter.
The author says the book contains everything you need to know about successful selling as well as how to win customers for life. The book is about how to transform the people of any organisation into a customer-driven and turned-on team. According to LeBoeuf, the success of any business organisation depends largely on the knowledge of the answers to the critical questions such as “Why do some people buy once…and never return?”, “Why do some people become strong, steady customers?”, “How do you turn an angry or complaining customer into a happy and satisfied one?”, “What are the five best ways to keep customers coming back?”, etc.
This author says one of the single greatest keys to long-term business success can be summed up in the phrase “Quality customer service”. He adds that yet, there is painful awareness that outstanding service is far too rare. LeBoeuf submits that the reason for this is as a result of these three problems: (1) employees do not know the basics; (2) the moments of truth -those crucial points of customer contact that can make or break a business – are not being properly identified and managed; (3) poor reward system: most managers fail to reward workers for giving excellent service.
He says a typical business hires a person to do a job, pays him or her a flat wage and gives him or her little or no incentive to go that extra mile for customers. LeBoeuf adds that in this type of situation, the typical employee’s attitude degenerates into one of indifference or even contempt towards the customers.
This book is segmented into three parts. The first part is thematically labelled “The basics” and contains nine chapters. Chapter one borders on the greatest business secret in the world. Here, LeBoeuf stresses the importance of the consciousness of customer satisfaction and care as a secret of customer retention and business success.
“Stop for a moment and consider just how valuable customers are. They alone make it possible for you to earn your livelihood in the way that you do. Treat them well and satisfied customers will be your best source of advertising and marketing,” he submits.
LeBoeuf stresses that when most people think of success in business, they think in terms of dollars, cents, statistics, facts and figures. Yet all those measures of success are determined by the behaviour of customers and the employees who serve them, he educates.
In chapter two entitled “Better than selling”, LeBoeuf says the “better than selling” principle is about focusing on what customers want and need, helping them to buy what is best for them and making them feel good about it.
He educates that this principle is important for everyone who works and not just those in sales. In his words, “You may work in a warehouse, in a laboratory, or on a production line and rarely, if ever, see one of your customers. But that customer is paying your salary….”
In chapters three to six, the author examines concepts such as the greatest customer you will ever win; the only two things people ever buy; buying much more when they buy you; and the importance of customer perception.
Chapter seven is based on asking the golden question to win new customers. Here, LeBoeuf submits that if rewarding customers is the key to winning and keeping them, then it naturally follows that the surest way to gaining more customers is to provide rewards that no one else is providing.
According to him, virtually every successful businessperson you ask will tell you that finding and meeting unmet wants is the name of the game when it comes to winning customers. LeBoeuf adds that “finding workable, profitable answers to the golden question is more an art than a science, and one that often involves a large amount of risk”. He offers tips on how to stack the odds in your favour in this regard.
In chapters eight and nine, LeBoeuf advises on the need to ask the platinum questions to keep customers for life and equally offers five best ways to keep customers coming back.
Part two is generically christened “Managing the moments of truth: Ten action-ready strategies”, and contains ten chapters, that is, chapters ten to 19. In chapter ten, LeBoeuf discusses what to do when the customer appears, calls or inquires. The most crucial contact of all is the first one that the customer makes with your business, because if you lose him or her here, he or she is likely lost forever, says the author. He offers tips on how to make a positive first impression.
In chapters 11 to 14, LeBoeuf discusses what to do when the customer is angry or defensive; what to do when the customer has special requests; what to do when the customer cannot make up his or her mind; as well as what to do when the customer raises objections to buying.
In chapter 15 based on what to do when the customer gives buying signals, the author says it is all too common for salespeople to spend half an hour selling their services and two hours buying them back. There is a time to talk, a time to listen, and a time to close, he educates, adding that the best time to sell is when the customer is ready to buy. LeBoeuf discusses how to recognise and reinforce buying signals and verbal buying signals.
In chapters 16 to 19, he analytically X-rays concepts such as what to do when the customer buys; what to do when the customer refuses to buy; what to do when the customer complains; and what to do when the customer is going to be disappointed.
The last part is summarily tagged “The triple-win reward system”, and contains three chapters, that is, chapters 20 to 22. In chapter 20 entitled “What gets rewarded gets done”, LeBoeuf submits that people behave the way the reward system teaches them to behave. “The single greatest obstacle to effective performance in most organisations is the giant mismatch between the behaviour needed and the behaviour rewarded. Organisations of all kinds fall into the trap of hoping for A, rewarding B, and wondering why they get B,” discloses the author.
In chapters 21 and 22, LeBoeuf beams his analytical searchlight on how to keep the spotlight on the customer, as well as the quality customer service action plan. According to him, when it comes to providing excellent service, a lot of today’s business owners and managers realise that their service quality is ailing and is in serious need of improvement. However, he adds that instead of making a serious commitment to improving it, they opt for Band-Aid solutions.
Stylistically, this book is excellent. Apart from the simplicity of the language, the depth of the contents is commendable. The fact that the text is segmented into three parts that are well articulated makes it easy to study. At the beginning of every chapter, LeBoeuf uses either a legendary quote or classical allusion to achieve conceptual reinforcement. He also employs reflective illustrations to achieve analytical clarity.
However, the layout of the book needs improvement. Also, “And”, the coordinating conjunction of adding should have been used instead of “&” in the title of the book to convey linguistic formality.
Generally, this text is a classic. If you want your business to survive through the knowledge of how to win and retain customers in the New Year, you need to read this book. It is strategically revealing.