Does your customer service set you apart from your competitors? That’s a trick question – I can almost promise you that it does, whether you want it to or not.
This concept came to me via Jonathan Davids (of Influicity), who was discussing the topic along with Maria Poveromo and Kelly Blackman at Social Shake-Up in Atlanta during their breakout session: The Transformation of Customer Engagement in the Subscription Economy, and, it applies to all of us.
Here’s why: for a long time, premium businesses set themselves apart with so-called “white glove service,” which implied they were willing to do just about anything to keep customers happy, including finding creative solutions that everyday providers wouldn’t. To get a sense of white glove service in action, just think of the concierge desk of a fancy hotel.
In this post, I’m going to discuss 3 key reasons why I believe you should offer superior service, no matter what your price point might be.
One thing you might notice is that the process of customer care itself is tied closely into the product. In other words, white glove service is part of the buying experience, not just an added benefit. People go to these kinds of businesses because they want the best, not just in the products or services they buy, but the way they expect to be treated as well.
That’s an important detail to grasp because better service is no longer optional, regardless of where you fall in the market. Although there are businesses and retailers that can get by with simply offering the lowest prices, these are fewer and farer between than just a few years ago. And, those that play the price war one too many times are facing the prospect of pricing themselves out of business.
In the digital age, customers have too many choices to settle for anything less than the best. That means smart companies are doing everything they can to encourage buyers to come back again and again. One example of this kind of service is Webnames.ca, the low-cost web hosting provider out of Vancouver BC, and especially Quinn, one of their customer service superstars. Quinn and his employer truly get the white glove service concept, even though they don’t perfectly fit the luxury image.
For business owners and marketers, upping their service can seem like just another layer of expense in an already ultra-competitive business world. Like Webnames, I see it a little bit differently though. To me, the rise of white glove service is a really good thing, opening the door to new ideas (and more prospects) than ever before.
To understand why this is, and why it matters, let’s look at three reasons I believe you absolutely have to provide superior service for your customers these days:
1. If You Don’t Give Great Service, Someone Else Will
I’ve already hinted at this, but let’s state it outright: If you aren’t giving great service and being helpful to buyers, you can bet they’ll find someone else who wants to work with them more. That’s bad news if you aren’t willing to go the extra mile for customers and prospects, but great news if you are.
Competition is so stiff in many markets and geographic areas that buyers don’t have to settle for anything less than the best. They want great service and competitive prices and are willing to test different businesses until they find the right combination.
2. A Bad Review Can Kill Your Business
Today’s buyers don’t just try out your products and services; they read, share, and consider reviews very carefully. That’s especially true on social media, where it doesn’t take long for the word to get out about a company that provides great service (and even less time for the ones that don’t).
If you’re giving your buyers anything less than the white glove treatment, expect that some feedback is going to be negative. Even if you think it’s not fair, and customers are expecting something unrealistic for you, those negative impressions are going to add up and eventually strangle your business, unless you do something positive about them, like earn more good reviews.
3. It’s Easier Than Ever for Customers to Seek Out Better Service
If that made it seem like reviews are your enemy, think again. In the same way that bad news can spread quickly, so can favourable impressions and reports of outstanding service. Because people can tweet, post, like, and follow you in seconds, their good experiences with your business can reach hundreds or thousands of potential new customers in seconds when you get things right.
For that reason, white glove service isn’t about being afraid of your competitors but doing everything you can for your customers, knowing that they won’t just come back to you again soon, but will likely bring their friends, colleagues, and family members with them.
Positive word-of-mouth is more important than ever, and it spreads faster than a lot of marketers realize is possible. So, do you feel you are providing white glove service and making the most of your opportunities?
Speaking from the perspective of Kayak Online Marketing, we wouldn’t think of developing a website for a client without enrolling them into our inbound marketing training program prior to launch, and working with them for at least 6 months post-launch. We don’t take this approach so we can bill more. We do it because we know that helping our clients to develop the skills and habits needed to make their sites deliver a return doesn’t happen over night. To do anything less would be a disservice.