At this point, there are very few ideas that haven’t been done before so when you have a business, the key becomes how to differentiate and convince potential customers that you’re the best business for their needs.
Some of the common answers to this question are to compete on price, product or service offering but there are a couple drawbacks here. First, competing on price often results in a race to the bottom and you can only go as low as cost before it doesn’t make sense anymore. Second, as mentioned, there aren’t very many new, truly innovative ideas these days because chances are, it’s been done before. That means your service offering or product isn’t unique and you are competing against others for the same customers.
This brings us back to the original question, how do you differentiate your business?
Two words: Customer experience
The relationships you build with your customers are crucial to establishing yourself as different from your competitors, which means they’re crucial to your business. Giving excellent customer service, following through on your promises, delivering promptly and staying in touch when they need it all make the difference. And while most businesses would admit this when asked, as customer service expert Jay Baer mentioned in our interview with him, there’s a disconnect between what businesses know, and what they deliver.
Not competing on customer experience has serious consequences for our business. A couple more statistics to keep in mind:
- Close to 90% of customers have stopped doing business with someone due to poor customer service.
- In the US alone, over $41 billion are lost by these businesses.
There’s more than to it than just the direct business loss though. One happy customer can equal as many as 9 referrals for your business according to American Express. After losing one customer, you’re losing potential word of mouth business from that customer as well, which is even scarier when we consider just how much we trust recommendations and reviews from others.
As Jay mentioned, “a high quality product that doesn’t break, or in a service business, the people who deliver the services are polite or on time” isn’t going to necessarily get you new customers, but it’s the start. Because getting this right is the basis for the next step, which can and does get you new customers.
From a great customer experience to advocate
By 2020, it’s expecting that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. So once you have a great customer experience, how do you go about using it as your differentiator when courting new customers and leads?
Think of the customer experience as you excelling at delivering what your service or product is. This starts from the moment someone becomes aware of your brand, through to product or service delivery, and everything in between.
This process of engaging a potential customer in your business is a conversation. They present their needs and you present your case for why you’re the best business to meet their needs. To convince them, getting others to chime in on this conversation and argue on your behalf is one of the most compelling things you can do.
Gathering reviews from past and present customers and using these as marketing pieces to reach a new customer also creates a sense of social proof around your business. And while there are a number of ways to build social proof around your business, chief among them is asking for reviews from customers who have been through the process with you.
Creating a sense of social proof focused on how well you deliver your product or service is a great way to demonstrate how different your business is from others in the same space, but you can’t build a sense of social proof without first having an excellent and memorable customer experience!