How To Strengthen Your Offer With Improved Value

Walking into a car dealership many years ago, I was ready for a transaction with value. What I found though proved different. It was near impossible to get anyone to talk to me!  When someone eventually came over, his first question to me was ‘So what do you want’? Being a little taken back at the attitude and overwhelming desire to be unhelpful I responded with ‘a car’.

He then asked how much I had to spend and when I would be buying.  He offered me no value and he didn’t ask any questions to uncover what I wanted or needed.  To his credit, neither did the other two dealerships I went to.

As a buyer, this experience pushed me to do my own research.  On my own I discovered exactly what would fit my needs, including colours and features. I then emailed those specifications and requirements to every Dealer in Melbourne. I asked that they not phone me but simply submit their best offer. To this day this is how I have purchased cars.

As a sales professional I don’t want to assume I have earned the right to sit at a decision makers table. If a potential customer has taken the time to welcome me into their business, I should be respectful enough to bring the value.

I was reminded of this as I went to see a business contact recently with my service offering. This person has given his business to the same company for 10-15 years and has never had the need to leave. He has no dissatisfaction with the product. And he has never experienced a different service provider, so he is loyal. He bases his loyalty to this company on this: He has never had any other experience with a competitor.

How then, do I, as a competitor, convince him to make the change for change sake?

The answer to this actually lies in a question this customer asked me. As I presented my proposal he queried:

“What is the one thing that you want me to focus on that differentiates you from your competitors?”

Great question. Here’s what I learnt from the question:

Naturally I believe I can offer a far superior product and service. The customer may not appreciate or care about the product differences.

What makes you stand out then? How are you different?

I can tell you, in short, how I answered. My answer had nothing to do with the actual product I sell.

Here is what differentiates my business/service from the competitor:

Communication

We will always be available to our customers through myself or my team. Our Customer Experience Manager position is intentional. This person is the first port of call for our customers needing to talk about machines, accounts, challenges, tips, tricks and services.

Consistency

We have a commitment to consistency. If we tell you we will do something? We will do it. If we can’t do something? We will tell you.

Human

We will endeavour in all situations to have you speak to a human being. Someone real. Someone that is helpful. Someone that has compassion. We don’t run from mistakes, we fix them.

All three of the above points, come down to one core business value of mine – relationship. This is my difference. Yours may have no resemblance. The point?

Communicate your point of difference CLEARLY and SPECIFICALLY.

Be ready to offer your value above and beyond the product.

If what you say doesn’t align with what you deliver you can promise everything in the world to the customer, but you will soon disappoint. There is already too much over-promising and under-delivering in my industry. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Simple. Buyers can sniff out non-genuineness from a mile away.

Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.

Value Proposition

The wonderful world of Customer Service

Customer Service Consistency – ‘But it wasn’t my fault’

I am living the dream at the moment – going through the second bathroom renovation in as many months, with three teenagers at home.  The jostling for position is as crazy as Bingo on pension day, (which, by the way, I have had the pleasure of experiencing!).

Having spent most of my working life in Customer Service, this renovation experience has found me reflecting on how diligently I have or have not delivered consistent customer service to those I was servicing. Or more precisely, are my team and I are doing what I am now experiencing?

Let me explain.

Reno #1

The company I had doing the work for me came out of the gates hard, with phone calls every day, constant follow up, and friendly staff.  It was all too good to be true! But, as the renovation progressed, the customer service deteriorated to the distant sound of crickets. We, the customer, now having to do the follow up to see how they were going, where we are at, and seeking some form of clarification as to how everything would be wrapped up. The last proactive call we have had was to collect monies on uncompleted works.  You can imagine how well that went down.

Reno #2

Reno #2 started as well as Reno #1 ended.  No one knew what was going on, when, how or why. The icing on the cake was definitely the Friday that the plumber installed the new bathroom taps and then departed. Upon my arrival home, I took an inquisitive look at progress and see we had a steady flow of drips from the tap causing significant damage to plaster in the roof downstairs and surrounding timber work. Not ideal but manageable!

To make a long story short, I found myself standing toe to toe with the very ‘personable’ (insert sarcasm here) and significantly bigger plumber who clearly did not want to be out on a Friday at 7:30pm enjoying my comedic banter about my leaking tap. The first comment out of his mouth when he saw the situation was, “that’s not my fault – it’s going to cost you”, delivered with the empathy of a velvet sledgehammer!

That very comment is what captured my attention. How quickly do we react with similar responses when faced with similar circumstances?

The Professional in me would suggest that I NEVER do this.  But the reality is that we all probably have our ‘7:30pm on Friday night’ moments where we conduct ourselves in a manner that is far from ideal. I know I do at least. The challenge is in how we arrest these moments to make them fewer and far between.

The challenge is in how we arrest our ‘Friday night at 7.30pm’ moments to make them fewer and far between. #customerserviceconsistency

 

When it comes to setting a standard for Customer Service, here are five consistencies that the team of professionals I work with are doing as much as possible:

  1. As the customer facing representatives of our business, if there is a problem, then we take responsibility for it and deal with it regardless of where the issue lies. ‘It’s not my fault’ is not an answer and the last thing someone experiencing issues wants to hear.
  2. When looking for the best person to make a difference, find a mirror!
  3. Resolve issues the way you would like them resolved when faced with the same issues.
  4. We will often fall short or miss the mark but don’t let that stop you from trying.
  5. It may not seem important to us, but always remember, that it is to the customer.

 

Whilst I suffer from the highs and lows of business (as we all do), it has been a desire to deliver a ‘consistent’ level of Customer Service that helped me through the various roles I have had the pleasure of caretaking.

If all else fails?  Head down to your local Bingo hall on that infamous Pension Day and embrace the confusion of Jimmy Choo – 32, Two fat ladies – 88, Chicken Vindaloo – 52 and the old, Legs – 11!

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