Here’s some 21st century tough love: A soybean is a commodity, and so are all the products and services you sell. That’s right. Virtually everything clients need or want today has been commoditized — even customer service.
The only thing that differentiates you from competitors today is the way customers feel about the experience of doing business with you. So make sure they walk away feeling good — and appreciated.
Thrive despite fierce competition
Indeed, it’s a whole new world in the technology-driven 21st century. Your clients and consumers have dozens of options to compare on Main Street, plus hundreds more virtual sources on Cyber-Street. It’s never been easier for customers to quickly hold up your services and products next to others in town, across the country or around the world.
For thousands of years, customers refined their searches to a couple semi-finalist businesses. They weighed their options based almost solely on the classic value proposition: price, product, availability and service. I’ve termed this period the Age of the Seller, which is seeing its last days.
Make your company indispensable
As the Age of the Seller evolves into the Age of the Customer, competing on value still matters — it’s just not enough anymore. It can get you to the table, but you also need relevance to land clients’ business.To go beyond the semi-final round and get anointed as customers’ “Chosen One,” review these steps. Three key Age of the Customer practices will help you become more relevant to your potential customers and secure their business for the long term.
- Launch a website where customers can shop and perhaps purchase online. This might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many small businesses don’t have a presence on the internet.
- Maintain a blog, social media site, or both, where customers can get to know you without leaving their home or business.
- Offer to electronically follow your customers home with requested information they value, including your e-newsletter.
High-touch service for the win
Customers still yearn for old-fashioned customer service, and exceptional service is memorable and impactful. In the Age of the Customer — and the nameless, faceless internet — clients still crave high-touch practices like these:
- Remember the customer’s name and use it — often.
- Smile early and often.
- Be grateful. You can’t say “thank you” too much.
Differentiate yourself to succeed
It’s not easy to compare your wonderful products and services to just another soybean. But to succeed today you need to focus on the aspects of your business that differentiate you from your competitors. That definitely includes the 21st century small-business three-legged stool: classic competitiveness, Age of the Customer relevance and high-touch service.
Write this on a rock: Be competitive, be relevant, and be grateful.
Source: FedEx Small Business Center, https://smallbusiness.fedex.com/new-business.html