A recent survey released in Australia shows that Australians are miles behind their American counterparts when it comes to taking care of their customers. By this I don’t just mean customer service, I mean actually talking to them to find out what it is they want from a transaction.

Asking for the sale.

Throughout the world companies are spending more on technology to develop stronger ties with their customers and asking the question, “what can we do for you?”

Too often retailers tend to assume the needs of their customers, rather than ask them what it is they want from them.

Years ago working for my father in North Queensland, I can recall a man walking into his fishing tackle shop looking like a homeless person, unshaven, ripped shorts, daggy old T-shirt. Consequently, being the young know-it-all that I was, I didn’t show the man much interest. It was the next day that I realized this man had just flown a party of his friends in from Perth to North Queensland, then by helicopter to Lizard Island, to board his 52 foot million dollar game boat. Fortunately for me, my father sold the man the things he needed the next day, about $2,500 worth.

My first lesson in retailing.

This is a classic example of how not to do it, and how we assume the needs of our customer.

In today’s environment time and time again research is telling us we need to give our customer a reason to purchase. This doesn’t mean we need to discount everything we sell or have a special each day. It means we need to work the sale, look for the ‘add on’ or the ‘value add’ to give us the sales result we are looking for. Give them an experience.

Every day millions of advertising dollars around the world are being transferred into loyalty programs and database marketing in an effort to build greater ‘share of customer.’ Huge brands like Pizza Hut, Chrysler, Zurich, Toyota and many more are all changing to look for the edge.

This is the way of the future. Are you asking for the sale?