Four Ways to Be Awesome in the Eyes of Your Customers
Mike “Sparky” Detmer (firstname.lastname@example.org) is vice president of sales and marketing for Niles Audio.
“Hello, Dad!! My car is spouting water everywhere and I’ve got to get to work. What should I do,” was the first thing my son Tony shouted frantically when I answered his call. “Take it easy, son. Can you get the car up to Jay at Bavarian Car Care without it overheating?” I asked in a calm tone. “I’m out of town and you’ve got to handle this one on your own.”
Later that afternoon, Tony called back. “Everything is awesome,” Tony expounded.
“Awesome? What makes you say that,” I asked.
“Those guys up at Bavarian are the Best!” Tony exclaimed. “Not only did they replace the broken hose to the radiator, but they got me to work on time. You see, Jay (the owner), told me he was very busy this morning and couldn’t look at my car until after lunch. When I told him that I had to be at work by 10 a.m. or else I’d get fired, he drove me there himself. Now I see why you’ve taken your cars to Bavarian for all these years,” Tony revealed in an assuring tone. “Why would you go anywhere else?” he pointed out.
You see, Jay’s business at Bavarian Car Care is a lot like yours. He has to compete with bigger competitors from a small facility with less panache. Yet his garage is always full with loyal customers. So what’s his secret? He is not cheaper, his shop isn’t as easy to access, and he doesn’t have a fancy waiting room. He just knows his customers’ needs and adds value wherever he can.
I recently heard a very powerful speaker named Howard Hyden who put it very succinctly, “Add value or stay home!” Howard’s premise of adding value in today’s market is founded on counterintuition that leads one to act opposite from the competition. That would mean when most of your competitors are cutting, it’s time for you to add. Heck, it works for Jay at Bavarian. All he did was drive Tony a couple of miles, and he created a customer who thinks he is “awesome!” A customer, who I might add, will likely spread the good word about his experience by telling several of his friends on the auto-enthusiast website he visits frequently.
So if you’re convinced you need to add value to drive your business but aren’t quite sure how to do it, try a few of these suggestions:
Jay’s business at Bavarian Car Care is a lot like yours. He has to compete with bigger competitors from a small facility with less panache. Yet his garage is always full with loyal customers.
1. Write down what “awesome” would be from your customers’ perspective.
Ask a few of your best customers what they consider “awesome” to be and in retrospect what you could have done better in the process of selling/installing/servicing their system. I remember a call from an end-user of the Niles IntelliControl home theater automation system who commented how “awesome” it was that his installer left a printed cheat-sheet behind to remind him of certain hot-key shortcuts programmed on the remote control. It took the installer all of a few minutes to do and left a huge impression with his customer.
2. Train yourself and your staff to be “awesome aware.”
Take note of what your customers need to feel great about and what awesome things that you are doing for them and keep it up. In the case of Niles’ technical support, I’ve noticed that the representatives who constantly get the most praise are the ones who show empathy while they are providing advice. That’s because installers don’t call to chat. They call looking for solutions, and often under serious stress.
3. Frame the value you add as a competitive advantage.
As many of your competitors commoditize the industry by cutting price, it’s easier to differentiate yourself from them by championing the value you add. Concentrate on quantifying and qualifying every aspect of your service.
4. Remember that there are only two places in the market for your company.
You can either be the lowest cost or the highest value. I’ll bet that you can’t be the lowest cost. So you better find the value you add, quantify it and champion it as one of your competitive advantages.