By Bryan Morris
In an age where new companies are constantly popping up and disappearing, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to have significant differentiating factors.
In the 1990s having a luxury car, say a Mercedes, was significantly different than owning a Chevrolet. One car had A/C, power windows, and Radio/CD player, and the other did not. Today both of these cars come with the aforementioned features standard. Luxury car companies have to increasingly create new features for those on the fence between choosing a Toyota between a Lexus. Those leather and heated seats? Maybe not available standard on a Toyota, but they are definitely available as an option to the consumer.
What I am trying to get at is you can only live on a brand name for so long. Your brand may represent the highest quality in the world, but that does not mean you can stop innovating. Consumers, now more than ever, have many choices when it comes to cars, electronics, home appliances, and more. The level of parity between brands is just going to keep on increasing, so how does one separate himself from the pack? The answer is better customer service.
Even if you are just a small business starting out, you have one sure advantage over larger, competing companies in your industry; You can be more “hands-on”. Send those hand written thank-you notes to a customer for buying your product. Personally interact with your customers on Twitter and Facebook. Participate in community forums. Just go all out in terms of customer service. If your company is one of the lucky ones that survives and thrives, you won’t be able to maintain the level of personal interactions that you once started doing. But if you continue on with the same principles of customer service you started off with, than you will more than likely create a strong fan base that will buy your product, no matter what.
Customer service is now considered to be one of the legs of a three-legged bar stool. Maybe in the past the priority was to the increase in profit margin or to cut costs. Don’t get me wrong those are both very important things to consider when running a business. What I am saying is that customer service needs to be just as important as the other two.
Lets say you have a customer that has been “loyal” to your brand for five years. They keep coming back to you because, while you do not have the best customer service, you haven’t wronged them in a way that caused them to take their business elsewhere. Then all of the sudden they have that one bad experience and the next thing you know they’re on Yelp or Google giving you a scathing review. Five years of serving a customer, and they go around and do this to you? Just one little hiccup and they are moving on? Yep.
You can’t just deliver on the tangibles, you have to be able to deliver on the intangibles as well. People are more sensitive than they let on. What may seem like a minor inconvenience to you, may equate to a major disturbance in a customer’s day. There may be times when the customer is really out of luck and there isn’t much you can do. This will happen. You just need to give your best effort and make sure the customer sees that as well. Even if you are working in a company where there are only cut and dry options to rectify a problem, go beyond that. Suggest a store that may be better to equipped to solve their problem.
While it may seem like lost business, it really isn’t. That person will always remember the company that told them another store would be better able to help them. Don’t you want to be remembered?