Pricing is something I get asked about on a regular basis. It appears that many businesses spend hours agonising over their pricing structure, comparing it to competitors, checking out what others are charging, trying to determine whether it’s ‘reasonable’. This is exactly the wrong thing to do and here’s why.
When the economy is on the up, everyone is really busy and money flows freely. Customers are more likely to make impulse purchases and not care so much whether their buying experience is a good one. Consumers are happy to spend their money and often make impulse purchases; the ‘desire to acquire’ overrides everything else.
However, in the current financial climate, many customers are finding that money is tight and there is far less to spread around. When people buy during an economic downturn they are extremely conscious of the hard-earned money they spend and give far more thought to how they spend it. Given that making a purchase is a more considered activity, customers want far more for their money. Simply put, the product hasn’t changed, but customers want more.
So, the message is simple. If you want to beat the competition, use quality service to differentiate your business. Scrutinise what your competitors are doing, but pay no attention to their prices. Instead look at their overall offering. Then determine the “norm” for service in your industry and find a way to go beyond it. It continually surprises me that more businesses don’t do this because, to be frank, the overall level of service is generally so low, that making small improvements to the level of service you offer can reap disproportionately large rewards. It’s what we like to call “Winning with a Whisper”.
Find out more about Lisa Chilvers and Athena Business at http://www.athena-business-solutions.co.uk
Customer service matters because excellent service is one of the most effective ways to get customers to return to your business. It can give you the competitive advantage you need to survive in a tough and increasingly uncertain business climate and here’s our top tips on how to get it right;
• Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and ask yourself, honestly, what your service delivery is like. This will help you be more proactive in trying to anticipate your customers’ needs and to offer better service.
• Customers are not loyal by nature and you have to win their trust. Remember that each and every customer has a great deal of emotion attached to every transaction and connecting with you customers on an emotional level is the key to establishing a long and profitable relationship with them
• “Under Promise, Over Deliver”. Be aware of your customers’ expectations and try to exceed them every time. You can’t always deliver exactly what they want, so make sure their expectations are in line with what you’re capable of delivering
• Accept that sometimes things will go wrong but always do everything within your power to put it right. Apologise, fix the problem, then give your customer something extra – a discount on future work, a small gift, etc – which will mean the lasting impression is a positive one. Restoring the customers’ faith in what you do will be more than worth the cost.
• Take customer complaints seriously and put steps in place to mitigate the problems for the future. Remember, a customer who complains is actually giving you an opportunity to be better at what you do, much better than not telling you and then letting the rest of the business community know about your mistake.
Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy.