When we returned to the other company for
our second appointment, we learned that they
would not honor the lower-fee offer and we would
have to pay the full fee. We decided against making
another appointment and found another supplier
whose price was lower.
Other businesses we’ve had extended relationships with have discontinued the discounts that
originally attracted us to their service. While we
know they are feeling a squeeze on their profits,
turning off existing customers only leads to a further downward spiral of fewer and lower earnings.
Some of the best ways to cut costs actually
increase sales or productivity. For example, knowing that their sales were dropping as people
scrambled to cover a full-price upfront payment
without increasing their credit-card debt, another
company we do business with decided to offer
quarterly instead of semiannual payments. This
policy is stabilizing their existing customer base
while attracting new clients as well. Other companies are going a step further and now offering
So before leaping to the most obvious penny-wise move, be customer-smart and search for
ways to save money that will both draw customers
and keep them happy to do business with you. C
PAUL AND SARAH EDWARDS:
LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
MARY ANN HALPIN PHOTOGRAPY
IN TIMES LIKE THESE, many businesses are trying
to maximize revenue by cutting costs. If you are
in this position, be sure not to cut your throat in
the process. Two recent experiences brought this
point home to us.
One company offered a discount on the second order; another offered a lower price if we
committed to it at the time of our initial purchase.
When we returned to place our second order with
the first company, we were told that they weren’t
offering that discount any longer. We were about
to rethink whether to place the order when the
owner said, “But since I promised you the offer I
will honor it for you.” She did, and we have continued not only to do business with this company
but to sing their praises to others.
More in archives
At Online Edition,
search “Paul and Sarah.”
YOU MAY THINK you know
how to write, but stringing
words together is only part of
the process, especially in business. They have to be effective.
Costco member Jane Curry
and Diana Young, in their
book, Be a Brilliant Business
Writer: Write Well, Write Fast,
and Whip the Competition
(Ten Speed Press, 2010), offer
valuable insights for anyone
who finds the art of written
communication necessary in
For instance, if you want to
write persuasively (Chapter 1),
master five principles:
1. Organize so your key points
2. Include only relevant content.
3. Make sure readers actually
read and respond to what
you have written.
4. Write clearly and concisely.
5. Write with the right tone.
If you’re thinking, “That’s
fine, but how do I do that?,”
this book’s for you. C
THE CONNECTION has lauded social
media (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Yelp) as a tool
for small businesses to market themselves.
And they are indeed useful, if used correctly.
Here are five areas of social media in which
businesses can stumble, according to Costco
member Scott Roen, vice president, OPEN
Forum, American Express OPEN
Ignoring the competition.
With social media, it’s easy to track
your competitors. There are media
tools to help you stay apprised of
their activities; for example, you can
track competitors by using sites
such as TweetBeep (
and Google Alerts (
alerts) to receive auto alerts each
time your competitors are mentioned online.
Ignoring what your customers
say about you. “The customer is
always right” has no better application
than on social media channels. A
negative comment about your company can identify an important gap in
your capabilities. Some businesses are wary of
responding to customer complaints in public
forums, but demonstrating that you care
enough to reach out and fix a problem can
showcase your business in a very positive light.
Arguing on social media channels. Your
brand can be judged not only by the fact that
you responded to a customer, but also by
how you responded. Arguing with a customer, especially in public, is a losing battle. Remain professional and unemotional.
If you are wrong, calmly admit it and indicate that you want to make it right.
Failing to live up to promises and
commitments. If you promise a customer
on Twitter or a blog that you will handle a
matter, make sure you do so. Dropping the
ball in a public way only exacerbates negative consequences. Social media can make
customer issues more complex because
you now must monitor more places where
customers may be discussing your brand
or airing an issue, but it’s worth the effort.
Wasting time. Experiment on social
media channels that your consumers utilize. If you’re not sure a site like foursquare
foursquare.com) is good for your business,
sign up as a consumer first and play
around. If it’s useful for your business,
claim your brand’s identity on that tool.
Don’t just tweet for Twitter’s sake. Focus
your posts on items that matter to you and
your business. C
NOVEMBER 2010 ;e Costco Connection 15