What makes a business stand out?
I was recently asked my opinion on what makes a business stand out.
Before I answered, others volunteered their responses, based on their own businesses:
- Great staff
- Distinctive branding
- Strength of messaging
- Good communication
- Best value
Yep, I thought to myself, all of these are great, but do they really make you stand out?
In thinking about the businesses which are head and shoulders above the others, for me, it's those which truly exceed customer expectations. The ones that go that extra mile. The ones that surprise you with the highest standard of customer service. A friend of mine, Geoff Ramm - expert on 'celebrity service' - calls these the 'OMG moments'.
An example of really OMG service:
Estate agents. We love to hate them. Not mine, and I will mention them, the fabulous Cooper & Tanner of Glastonbury. Time and time again, they went above and beyond to ensure our house sale proceeded and completed, in record time. Did we have many phone calls after hours? Yes we did. Did they re-shoot all the photos for the house to freshen up the marketing, all without being prompted? Oh yes. Did they constantly harass my useless conveyancer, our tricky purchaser, plus their solicitor and mortgage company, when I had all but lost the will to live? Yep. On the day of exchange, when my conveyancer assured me we were out of time, did they contact every relevant party involved, again, after closing time, on a Friday night, and make sure we achieved our crucial exchange? All without a sweat. They provided us with absolutely superlative service and a sale in under 6 weeks, and the two bottles of champagne we dropped in before we left Somerset were more than deserved.
An example of really not OMG service:
I've been waiting for my phone line and broadband to be installed since Christmas. The chap comes out to do some work early in the New Year and then a few weeks later, all that needs to be done is the final connection. The date comes and goes, and to cut a long story short, I am left waiting nearly 6 weeks. After many unsatisfactory emails, phone calls and tweets (a tip to all customer service departments on Twitter: if you can't provide good customer service in such a public arena, don't have a Twitter account!), it's eventually installed. On the day of installation, instead of simply connecting us remotely, as advised, it takes 3 hours and 2 visits to sort out. On my birthday. The provider, when prompted, says they will graciously refund the first month of service I paid for. Whaaaaaaat? The month of service I did not even have?
Will I recommend this company? No I won't. Will I recommend my estate agent? You bet.
In a competitive market, when perhaps it's challenging to compete on price/product/packaging/location, the winners are going to be those providing the most exceptional service and customer experience. Winners because they'll get repeat business, but also winners because word-of-mouth marketing is about the best there is.