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Original post : Nov 8, 2011

Are you as good as you think you are?

Customer Service ReportWhen asked what sets them apart from their competitors many of our clients will reply "our service". The trouble is, when pressed, they struggle to explain what exactly is so great about their service, or what evidence they have to back up their claim. Is it just their view, possibly a little biased. Or do others really agree?

Are you as good as you think you are?

There are myriad factors affecting your success in business - but being good at what you do is a fundamental platform. While spending lots of money on advertising and promotions may not be an option for many companies, a good reputation is priceless. It gives you something concrete to shout about, it encourages word of mouth recommendation, repeat business and greater loyalty. Are you sure you are giving your customers lots of reasons not to look elsewhere or to be seduced when other options present themselves?

When I blogged about some of the basics of marketing in the summer one of my regular readers, Martin Crowther of VR Sani-Co Ltd sent me this message:

"Good article,  I have always found that our most succesful marketing tool is one of "under promise and over deliver". It never ceases to amaze me when customers are surprised and thank you for only doing what you said you would do - this would indicate to me that most companies don't."

How sad! But what an opportunity! How much time do you devote in your business to reviewing customer service and coming up with new ways to please your customers? As Martin says, you may not have to be spectacularly good to stand out - just better than the average. Doing what you say you're going to do is a good start!

It doesn't matter if it is a product or pure service you are selling, there is always a service element in delivering value to a customer, from first contact to after sales:

  • How promptly, pleasantly, professionally do you answer calls or emails?
  • Do you give full, easy to understand information to enquirers?
  • Do you keep your promises on dates & times for meetings or deliveries?
  • How do you ensure that customer needs are fully met?
  • What after sales care or follow-up do you do?
  • How good are you at keeping in contact?

All the advertising and tweeting in the world will not save you from mediocre results if you can't deliver against your promises - that means delivering value. As Warren Buffet is fond of saying, "Price is what you pay. Value is what you get." The value you deliver justifies the price you charge.

The trick is never to be complacent - keep reviewing and comparing what you do against the competition. And don't forget to ask your customers what they really think about your service and really listen to their answers to help you discover new ways to delight. If you already believe that your service sets you apart make sure you can explain how and that you have the evidence to back up your beliefs - testimonials are a great way to do this, and the bonus is you get to use them in your promotions too.

So, the questions still hangs, are you really as good as you think you are?

Comments

Fair point Andrew. I think as a minimum you need to deliver what you say you are going to - based on my own experience that is not always the case! But even better if you can delight customers by being even better than they expected. I took Martin's comment to mean he was being compared with others who were perhaps doing the opposite!
Comment by Sharon - Nov 16, 2011 14:34
Great posting. But the trouble with the quotation from Martin Crowther is that it contains a non-sequitur. Either his happy clients are those for whom he "did what he said he would do" OR they are clients for whom he did MORE than he said he was going to do: because that's what under-promising-&-over-delivering actually means. So the message of the posting is diluted. Either the message is about the importance of delivering what you say are going to do. Or it is about the value of delivering more than you say you are going to do. And while both may be "good things" they are two very different messages.
Comment by Andrew Jones - Nov 9, 2011 10:23
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