It’s a competitive market out there and many people are turning to some form of paid marketing as a solution to their revenue woes.
I think there are smarter and cheaper ways of becoming more competitive and generating revenue than wasting money on Google or Facebook advertising. In fact I’d suggest that the best way to improve your opportunities is in fact free, and that way is to level up your customer service.
After some recent travelling I had the good fortune to experience many instances of both good and bad service from which I’ve now taken many lessons.
Let’s start with a bad experience. This involved an airport transfer to a hotel upon arrival. In the arrivals hall I couldn’t find the driver with my name so I had to call the company that had arranged the transfer. I was eventually directed to a local contact who placed a call to the missing driver. While waiting for my driver to appear I reflected on how distainfully I had just been treated.
After my allocated driver appeared, we walked to his car and I began the journey to my hotel. During this there was no attempt at conversation, no small talk or welcome, just stoney silence. Every corner we arrived at we seemed to only just avoid an accident and at every opportunity I seemed to have been flung around in the rear to point where I actually started to become motion sick.
When we did finally arrive at the hotel I was keen to get inside and complete my long journey. When I thanked the driver his response halted me in my tracks. He told me flat out that my thanks meant nothing to him! Basically he was looking for a tip. There was no consideration for my state of well being, the amount of travel I had just completed and whether I even had change. Nope, Mr Gumpy wanted a tip and if he didn’t get one he was going to try and send me on a guilt trip.
To my way of thinking a tip is a bonus for service above beyond the norm. All I received this case was really a sub par service. I’d paid the standard fee, what was my reason for paying more? There was no effort was made to improve on the standard let along go above and beyond. How hard would it have been to maybe play a bit of tour guide along the way and welcome me to the location?
Now let’s compare that to a completely opposite experience I experienced. I had returned mid afternoon to my hotel room to unwind a bit before taking an evening tour. I had only been in my room a matter of minutes when there was knock on the door from someone wanting to ‘freshen’ the room. Why would you need to do that? I’ve only just walked in, I thought?
I allowed them to proceed and straighten up the stuff I had just strewn across the room, turn down the bed, add some sweets by the bedside and more. After asking me whether there was anything further I needed they headed out all the while refusing any tip that I was desperately trying to give them.
Do you see the difference between these experiences? One was so good that I felt obliged to offer more, while the other left nothing but a sour taste in my mouth that remains burned into my memory today and is a story I recount regularly.
The cost of providing good customer service is nothing more than a little bit of effort but how many businesses that you know actually make that effort? The impact is stark when you come across an instance of great customer service, so much so that it stays out like a beacon.
Not all customers will pay a premium for service but those that don’t aren’t the ones that you should be looking for. The transfer business that employed Mr Grumpy is clearly in the volume game, relying on a large number of customers paying a low price. However, you can’t really do this while providing good service because you are clearly not paying your drivers enough given their burning need for a tip.
However, the second experience was targeted in such a way that factored in the service without the requirement for a tip. The point being that the perception becomes that the service is so good it is worth the premium to a customer like me. Best of all, I’m going to refer that on to others.
Good customer service can be a challenge because you have to divorce yourself from your beliefs and examine the realities through customers eyes. That can in some cases be difficult to endure but the rewards can be substantial.
Sure, some buy purely on price but I’ll bet that most desire a memorable ‘experience’ and are more than willing to pay more if their needs and desires are met. Thus, to obtain that revenue, all a business needs to do is provide good service. But like I said, if you honestly think about it, few, very few businesses really make much of an effort when it comes to customer service.
That lack of effort means there is an opportunity for any business willing to make the effort to benefit, with the pay off generally being far more than the effort invested. The great thing is that this effort is not limited in avilability to large businesses, it is in fact most effective when adopted by a smaller business.
Thus, in an age where traditional business competition is fierce, good customer service becomes the differentiator that smart businesses are using to succeed. Best of all, it costs nothing but a little discipline to implement and maintain, however the payoff can be substantial. Why? Because good customer service, like bad, generates leverage thanks to referrals. Think about it. How many people do you tell when you have a good experience? What about a bad experience? Importantly, people you share your experience with are highly influenced by your personal recommendations. The flow on effect of good or bad experiences is quite profound.
Thus, if you want to generate more income for your business focus on improving the customer experience. Invest in finding out exactly what the customer wants and then provide it at a premium price. You’ll have no trouble generating the revenue firstly because no one else is giving this level of service and secondly, those who won’t pay the premium price are probably customers you don’t want and would actually end up costing you more.
Great customer service doesn’t magically appear, it requires a consistent process to improve but to me it is well worth the effort and has no upper limit on what can be implemented. The better your service, the more you can charge and the more you can focus on the right clients instead of falling into the trap of believing that servicing greater numbers of clients is the path to increased revenue. As I can attest, thanks to my experiences with Mr Grumpy, customer service in a commodity focused market actually decreases to the point where not only will I never use that business again but I will tell as many people as I can about how rotten it was.
Before you spend another red cent on marketing, ask yourself whether you can improve the service your deliver your customer. If you look at those who already do it well you’ll find that you’ll never need to waste money marketing any more, the business will come to you, all because you invested in great customer service. How much simpler could it be?