How to Outserve Your Competitor
by Kevin D. Crone
If you’ve noticed that you’re losing repeat business due to penny-pinching in today’s marketplace, how about tightening up your service strategy as a possible loose end?
First off, looking for key motivators of your customers is always the best ongoing method of finding and keeping clients. Some will always stay because of the great service they get, that matches what they want. It’s the value (what they want) beyond the product that keeps you slightly better than competition.
Amazingly, most companies are still sales first and service, well you know, “You can’t please everyone,” second or third, or, uh… fourth. Lots of gigantic successful companies like Fed Ex or Apple have made service their key differentiator. Customer listening meetings, after sales calls, surveys, reading market trends – all work. Stay at it.
Secondly, take a look at service from a system point of view. Granted some employees are just more wired to be serviced oriented, but make sure to systemize your customer interactions. Don’t depend on just personality and hope that your customers are happy. Instead, sit down with a few people and determine: what are the service points or the customer touches and moments of truth. As a team, map out what should be going on at every touch. Now, look at your present reality. How does it stack up? You may be surprised that your systems are more about what your company wants rather than what the customer wants.
Thirdly, teach the special touches. When in Florida recently, I tried to learn the names of every supplier, server, and owner of a business I was dealing with. (It’s my old Dale Carnegie Training). It was amazing how few tried to get mine. Or would even introduce themselves. Now getting a customer’s name and using it is fairly fundamental if you want to make an impression and retain customers. The “too busy to bother,” or the “not interested, I’ve got my own problems” scenarios, inadvertently become the habits of the culture of your company. “That can’t be. We love our customers”, you say. Well it happens, and it all adds up to indifference and a lazy service system.
Fourthly, coach your people. The most important thing is to make a repeatable system and use it with all customers and ensure that your entire team is schooled, coached and rewarded for following it every time. For example, have everyone practice the best ways to consult with customers when they’re ordering to find out their needs and problems. And of course, practice how to give the best advice on what would fix the customers’ problems. And practice how to handle complainers effectively (not just the complaint). Today customers want advice, not a pitch.
Lastly, engage your team in coming up with new ways to dazzle your customers with better service methods. Maybe it’s follow-up calls or invitations to special events or complimentary services… whatever suits. Regardless, keep at it. You and your company have a 25 to 35% greater chance of repeat business if a good service system is operational.
• What struck a chord with you today?
• What are your service points and key moments of truth?
• How can you find out how your customers want to be serviced?
• How can you begin to improve your service system?
As always, I realize no one has the time to stop their world to re-think, implement new systems, teach and coach. You’re working in the business. Remember for the business to get better, your teams and systems need to get better. We need to take the time to work on the business and will have the power of commitment on our side.
Have a great week!
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