In business, we make money by providing value to our customers. Value is actually a very wide term, which can mean something as simple as helping the person lose weight by providing them with an easy way to lose weight or it could mean the service we provide to our customers; for example, finding them what they want no matter how hard it is to find. People are willing to pay for value, but it must be value worth paying for.
Mainly, it is the way we are better than everyone else that sets us apart. The things that give us competitive advantage. We can offer a better product, better service, better price, or better customer service than our competitors. Many of these are hard to do, there are so many competitors out there with great products or services, many are selling at rock-bottom prices, but one thing that many companies forget is how to truly serve the customer. By serving, I mean putting the customers’ needs ahead of the needs of the company. For instance, I had a customer that wanted a particular item that I could not get at wholesale, so I ordered it from drugstore.com and shipped it to them free of charge. Why would I do such a silly thing? Because the customer will remember it and go out of there way to buy from us in the future.
It can be a difficult concept to wrap your mind around. Providing heroic customer service just so the customer comes back to you in the future. There’s no guarantee by the way, it is possible that they will go elsewhere in the future, so your effort may or may not be rewarded. You may just be giving away the store. However, most customers recognize great service when they see it and go out of their way to use companies with great service, depending on the price.
And what about price? If you can give your customers great service, you typically can charge a bit more than your competitors and get away with it. If you are competitive but slightly higher, but you give far better service, customers will definitely seek you out.
It’s not always easy to give the best service. At times it can be time consuming and costly, but if 99% of your customer interactions are fairly normal but 1% require heroics, you will make plenty of money and impress your customers. You really do have to be perfect though. Any problems whatsoever will tarnish your reputation. Any mistakes should be cause for lavishing your customer with service and gifts.
Giving great service is an investment in your long-term business, so you may spend a bit more short term for great service. But long term your investment will pay huge dividends.