On August 25 I tweeted “A prospect who called yesterday said that we were the only ones in the area who answered the phone. The answering machine darkness everywhere!”. We finished this particular client’s project just yesterday, in less than two weeks, and this is what the client said to me, “I’m so glad to have found you!”.
Therefore, today I will be talking about great customer service, and developing your unique competitive advantage. Remember, what applies to my business applies to your business as well.
First, love your enemies, as the saying goes. I love our competition. If it weren’t for them we wouldn’t have the business we do. Actually it is our competition that keeps us on top of the game. We are always trying to learn from them and do things differently, better than them, outsmart them, and they help keep our quality as a high standard. The case with the client that had called six different Web Design companies in Poughkeepsie and the surrounding area and none of them answered his phone call illustrates the importance of customer service perfectly. When the customer called and we answered, he was very excited and told us that we were the first to answer his 7th phone call that day. I was kind of surprised and my guess why nobody answered his phone call was that maybe they were out to lunch. Maybe it happened that he picked phone numbers of some companies that just have a website and do web design and development in their spare time.
Of course, not all Web Design companies in the Hudson Valley do that, and certainly not Shero Designs. We always answer the phone during normal working hours. This is the kind of benefit our competition provided to us on August 25th. It handed us a client on the platter. The most important gift your competition can provide you, however, is ideas about how to make your business unique, or as I call it “create your competitive advantage” and do some benchmarking. By reviewing your competitors, and then applying what you have learned to your own business operations, you can find out how to offer your clients what your competitors can’t.
Let’s consider now in which way you can differentiate your business from the competition. You might select price as your key differentiator on market positioning, a personal touch, or a niche market. The point is that you must stand out of the crowd or you’ll be like the crowd, and when you are like the crowd there is no reason for the prospect to buy from you.
If your key differentiator is price and your slogan is “I can do it cheaper than anyone else” consider this: First someone, somewhere will be cheaper than you. This is a 100% guaranteed fact. Then what? You’re out of a big chunk of business. Second, price isn’t the major decisive factor for most people who are in the market for your services. People will take your price into consideration but if you demonstrate that what you are offering is a better value for the money than everyone else, then you got the job. In our industry at least people are looking for value for money and return on investment, not the cheapest price they can get.
After having proved to your prospective client how you’ll help them get a better return on investment, you move to the next step that I call great, one-of-a-kind, customer service. The best and cheapest way to stand out from the crowd is by providing superior service. Unlike price differentiation, creating superior service does not affect your profit margin, while your reputation for quality grows. The fact is that superior service generates its own reward in the form of referred business and it is at no cost to you.
Last but not least, keep in touch. We may have been rejected by a client or two, and there are plenty of other potential clients out there, but I just forget about the rejection and always try to stay in touch. Why should I and you stay in touch with clients that did not do business with us? Because it is good manners and you have to thank them for the opportunity they gave you. Clients also change their mind sometimes and need reassurance from the business they decided to go with. If they don’t find that reassurance then you may be the next person in line. If you have stayed in touch for the past year with a client that rejected you, and the service they received from the other company wasn’t up to par, you might be the next one to have a try or to be referred to a friend or family. Thank you for reading my simple, non-philosophical business tips. I take a lot of notes, ask a lot of questions, and like to share what I learn from my experience.