It’s easy to forget why your customers want to visit your business or purchase your product.
As crazy as that may sound, it’s so very true.
As business owners, we can be super focused on the product or offering at the expense of understanding our customers. We’re makers, after all, and what we make is the most exciting part of running our business.
But this is a dangerous approach that misses a huge part of what contributes to building a successful business with a strong customer base.
In our previous post we outlined a Pyramid of Need that explains why people leave their homes to visit your business and purchase your product. Today we’re beginning to tackle the very base of that Pyramid, Service, Value, and Convenience.
Let’s start with Service.
Every business in the world is in the service business.
I don’t care who you are, what you do, what you make, how long you’ve been making it…
You, along with everybody else, are in the service business.
But what is service?
Service is the act of positioning yourself and your business to provide help or assistance to your potential customers.
Defined this way, service can take many forms. Restaurants provide a meal that you don’t have to cook yourself. Steel manufacturers provide materials that help build the infrastructure our world depends on. Accountants provide advice that helps people navigate taxes and avoid unpleasant penalties and audits.
No matter the industry, everyone is in the service business.
And your success will depend on how well you understand and orient yourself to that fact.
However, service isn’t just about the utility that your product or services provide. It’s also about how you manage the endless touch points you have with your customers.
The most obvious example is in food service. The utility of this industry is that we get to eat and drink without having to prepare and clean up our meals. But anyone who has eaten out or grabbed drinks at a bar can tell you that “service” doesn’t begin or end with the product and its utility.
Rather, service is about atmosphere, it’s about first impressions, follow up, follow through, and a genuine feeling that the business exists not only to provide utility, but also to provide you with an exceptional experience.
Why do you think Moe’s Burritos employees shout “Welcome to Moe’s!” every time you walk through the door?
Why else would big budgets for build-outs matter?
And, most simply, what good would training employees to be helpful, kind, and generous matter?
Service is about synergy between the utility of your product, the experience of interacting with your company, and the kindness, generosity, and helpfulness of your staff.
What’s the practical takeaway here? How do you build a business with exceptional service?
First, audit your product.
Does what you make provide a tangible benefit to your customers? Does your company do a good job of communicating that benefit to your customers? Do your customers understand how to interact with your product in a way that maximizes that benefit?
If the answer to any of these is no, you need to go back to the drawing board.
No one cares that you make a cool thing if it’s useless. More importantly, no one cares if you make a cool thing that people don’t understand how to use or understand the benefits of using.
One time I had a vendor rep in my store with a brand new product. It was an ionizing spray bottle that was supposed to kill viruses and bacteria with the same effectiveness of the normal sanitizer we and every other restaurant in the world were using.
You simply filled the bottle up with water and the sci-fi looking spray head would ionize the water before it was sprayed onto the surface you were hoping to sanitize.
If the science was correct, this would be a really cool way to limit employee and customer interactions with harsh chemicals.
But the science wasn’t 100% correct.
Also, the spray head cost $500.
I wasn’t even sure that the product would do what it claimed to do and it would take me roughly a year to recoup the cost of investing in a piece of equipment with a high failure rate (anyone who’s used a spray bottle day in and day out can tell you that those things break down very quickly).
This was a useless product. I haven’t seen one for sale in years.
Second, consider the experience of interacting with your company.
Are you easy to get in touch with? How is your branding and design looking? Is your store easy to find? Do you have adequate parking? If you’re online, is your website easy to navigate and loaded with helpful information about what it is you do and how to contact you?
Interacting with your company should be a pleasant experience. Long lines and wait times, boring (or worse, ugly) interiors, dirty bathrooms, confusing websites…these are all service killers.
In my previous job managing restaurants, there was a restaurant supply store just down the street. However, I rarely bought from them. Want to know why?
I understood the utility of the product and their staff was friendly and helpful.
But, none of their products had price tags. You had to take a product to the register to find out how much it would cost you.
Speaking of the register, the checkout process was so archaic that it routinely took over five minutes just to complete a single transaction.
Sure, it was nice having them down the street in an emergency, but I almost always ordered my restaurant supplies online. The experience was fast, easy, and the customer service I received from my online vendors was often equal to or greater than what I was receiving down the street.
The lesson here is that neither the usefulness and utility of your product nor the quality of your customer service will matter if the experience of interacting with your company sucks.
Speaking of customer service…
Third, your Customer Service has to be top notch.
Customer service gets a bad rap and I think that’s due, in large part, to the many opinions on just what exactly constitutes good customer service.
Customer service is, at its core, the quality, helpfulness, and general friendliness of your customers’ interactions with your staff.
This doesn’t have to be in person. It could be over the phone, via email, or even good old fashioned snail mail.
Just yesterday I was meeting a client at a local coffee shop. When I arrived, I scoped out a good table for meeting, put my stuff down, and headed to the counter.
At no point was I greeted with a simple hello.
I had a question about the decaf coffee they brewed. The barista didn’t know anything about the coffee, only that it was their “normal decaf.”
I asked if she would run a tab for me so that my client could come in an order on my tab and offered to let them hold my card. The barista said no.
In less than five minutes of interacting, I was already put off by the service I was receiving. Having managed coffee houses myself, I knew that the questions I had weren’t difficult ones to answer. I knew, because I had used the same POS system this shop was using, that it was simple to run tabs for customers.
I knew that I was receiving bad customer service and it made me rethink my decision to hold meetings there again.
Let’s quantify that, shall we?
My average spend at this coffee shop is around $10 (for two people, including tip). I hold roughly two meetings per week at this location. Let’s round down to 50 weeks per year, 2 meetings per week at $10 per visit.
If I decided to stop frequenting this shop, this particular barista’s bad customer service just cost the company $1000 in revenue per year.
Now, multiply that by the number of potential negative customer service interactions that particular barista had on that single day.
Let’s say she interacts with 100 customers that day and, because she delivers poor customer service, she effectively loses 10 customers in a single day for the company.
That single $1000 yearly loss that can be attributed to me alone just became a potential $10,000 yearly loss in a single day. Consider how many days per week this barista works and the math starts to get really, really alarming.
The moral of this story is, Customer Service teams should be singularly focused on providing genuinely useful assistance to your customers in a genuinely friendly manner that encourages customer happiness and loyalty which will, in turn, drive repeat business and revenue.
If you’re ready to supercharge your business, bring in more clients, and boost your revenue, Newberry Consulting is the firm for you.
We specialize in building systems that generate more revenue by addressing operational problems holistically. From optimizing your product line to training your management to reflect emotionally intelligent practices, Newberry Consulting will show you how to use the tools you already have to delight your customers, build loyalty, and produce more revenue than ever before.
I’d love to talk with you personally about your business and how I think we can help you achieve your goals. Click below to shoot me a quick message. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours.