How does one grow a business in a non-commoditized industry, or for that matter, in a commoditized industry? Simple: SERVICE! As I run around our world, the one thing that has become crystal clear is that good customer service is nearly lost, taking with it any personal or corporate responsibility (the one is dependent on the other).
When purchasing a car recently, I experienced such a total lack of customer service that I was baffled as to how car dealerships even exist. I believe that they wouldn’t except for the fact that we need transportation. The lack of service at every dealership I visited was truly embarrassing, not to mention the lack of professionalism overall. And in my opinion, the same applies to cell phone and cable companies.
What we hear from insurance agents pretty consistently is that their customers “shop” them, which is the same thing that sales people at dealerships say, as well as business professionals in other industries. Here is my two cents: help customers through the buying cycle, and then provide that customer with such exceptional customer service that they are wowed by your business.
You see, customers most likely will NOT get a cheaper policy anywhere else (without cutting corners or changing coverage), and the same goes for cars. The market has determined pricing for both products. Are there exceptions to the rule? Yes. But for the most part this is true.
Now, when I say “help them through the buying cycle” that is exactly what I mean- help them. Most salespeople “sell” their product or service so hard that they have no idea what their customer’s buying motives are, which leads to a frustrated buyer. That frustration causes that buyer to go somewhere else (shopping). The buyer won’t tell you they are frustrated because that requires confrontation. But they will give you some line about finding a better price, etc.
Right here you may be thinking, “No really, they are trying to get the best price,” which may be true. However, most of the time they are just blowing you off. Want to know how I know this? Because I pay more for products or services every single day, just like you do.
Take for instance buying shoes. We all pay more for shoes than we need to- let’s say we buy Nikes instead of another brand of sneaker. Are Nikes better? Maybe, but my point is that we could spend less money if we wanted to. We just don’t always want to. The same holds true for every single other product in the world. Our job (as salespeople) should be to help the buyer buy, and NOT to simply “sell.” You see, in the words of Jeffrey Gitomer, “people love to buy, but they hate to be sold.”
Now on to, perhaps, the most important part of service: responsibility. Most people, and therefore companies, do not take responsibility for their faults or shortcomings. Everything in today’s society is someone else’s fault. For example: when you buy a product from a store and it does not work or it breaks, the retailer will claim that you need to call the manufacturer, who then tells you that it’s not their responsibility and sends you back to the retailer.
And companies wonder why there is no brand loyalty. In an attempt to create brand loyalty, they spend hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing, when all they really need to do is provide great customer service- take responsibility and do what’s right by the customer.
The perfect example of this is Nordstrom. If you have ever had to return anything to Nordstrom, you know that they take it back with no questions! Do they get taken advantage of at times? Of course they do. But it’s worth it to them because the overly easy shopping and returning experience results in more and more loyal customers.
So, if you’re wondering how to grow your business, my answer is: help the buyer buy, and provide exceptional customer service after the sale. Then you will have a wildly successful business. Now, this requires HARD WORK; continual training of employees, constant learning on our part to be better salespeople and managers, and so on. But the old saying rings true, hard work pays off.
-Written by Aaron Getty