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What else is important to your prospects besides what you are selling and how much you are charging?

Most people would say their quality and their service. Now, do good quality and/or good service mean different things to different people? Of course it does.

What do good quality and/or good service mean to your customers specifically?

To some people, a quality vehicle is a Honda Accord, while to others, it is a Rolls Royce. It depends on their situation, and their perspective, doesn’t it? In this case, maybe a better term to use would be suitability. It better suits your client’s or customer’s lifestyle.

Question: Let’s suppose you a have two different clients and one arrives in a Honda Accord, and the other a Rolls Royce. Should you treat them differently? Why would you?

If they both came into your restaurant and ordered dinner, don’t they both deserve the same quality and quantity of service and satisfaction? After all, they are ordering from the same menu and paying the same price for their dinners.

Maybe the one that arrives in a Honda Accord values economy and quality over satisfying his/her ego and prestige. They are both eating at your restaurant, so they both “value” a good meal, with good service at a fair price.

If they order their meals and the quality is terrific…it’s the best cut of meat available everywhere, but it takes forever to get the meal to the table, they aren’t given the proper knife, it’s not cooked right and they have to duck every time someone comes out from the kitchen, then they may not get the “value”.

Often times, it is not always what you get (quantity/quality), but how you get it (value).

What might good service mean to your clients/customers/prospects?

What have you found it means to them in the past?

Well, to some of them, it may mean responsiveness. They want to know that if there is an issue, problem, challenge or question that someone is there to immediately address it for them.

Have you ever purchased from an individual or company, called the customer service number, but couldn’t reach anyone? How did that make you feel?

Right, like they didn’t care. And you know what? They probably do, but it’d be hard to prove when nobody seems to take a personal interest in helping you resolve your issue.

The number one reason most of your clients/customers/prospects that have left you in the past, and won’t do business with you in the future is because of what is called “perceived indifference”. They simply feel like you don’t care.

I recently had several concerns with a major marketing organization. I found the preferred contact method (their dedicated forum) to be un-manned. I received no answer at the 800#. My e-mailed inquiry was acknowledged by an e-mail from donotreply@xxxxxx.com, thanking me for my inquiry and assuring me that someone would soon be in touch. Still waiting, waiting, and waiting.

Obviously, their definition of “soon” is different than mine. Or, am I being guilty of “perceived indifference”?

Even more important than responsiveness, which is the reactionary part of the communication process, is being proactive with your communications.

What is the “proactive” part of communication? It’s what is called follow-up, or maybe more appropriately, follow-through.

Do you realize that 94% of the problems your clients/customers/prospects encounter will never be brought to your attention?

However, they will tell 10 of their friends how much they hate you, how bad your company is, how your product/service stinks and how they will never do business with you again! And then, they will go straight to your competitor.

However, when you kill the “monster”, or solve the problem, you are a hero. When you allow the problem to get too large, you’re done and often times, you don’t even know why.

Now you are left with the only recourse being to delude yourself into thinking that they were the idiot, or being unreasonable in their requests, but it wasn’t your fault. They didn’t see the “value” in what you had to offer.

Again, “value” is perception. They did see the “value” in your product, or they never would have ordered in the first place. They didn’t see the “value” in YOU!

And that is your fault.

So, how do you avoid this situation? Ask.

Ask your clients/customers/prospects what you can do better in order to add “value” to their experience of doing business with you. There is a local gentleman that seems to own 9/10 of the Mickey D’s around town. Every one of his stores has a “comment card” on the table, complete with name, address and phone number.

Some may decline to tell you what they would like to see changed, but that’s OK. The one’s that do speak up will end up doing so for the majority. And, the ones that initially declined will remember that you reached out for their input.

You can not go wrong being pro-active in customer service. Follow-up and follow-through also helps to ensure trouble-free ownership of your product or service.

Have you ever bought a software program, taken it home and had problems installing it, getting it to load properly, or even to work at all? How’d that make you feel?

Frustrated, right? Even if you received it as a “gift” for your participation or as a present, you still feel the frustration.

What if, instead, the store that had sold it to you, or the person that gave it to you, had called you within a day of your acquiring the software to see if you had any issues with the installation or set-up and then walked you through the process?

Wouldn’t you feel better about your purchase and likely purchase again from that store/person?

Of course you would!

Merriam-Webster says value is defined as:
1: a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged
2: the monetary worth of something
3: relative worth, utility, or importance

Who decides what the “fair return”, “the monetary worth of something” or the “relative worth” of something is?

The customer, that’s who!

There may be some exceptions to that rule, like Neiman-Marcus (just stick a price on it, somebody will pay it), but by and large, it is the buyer that sets the price, not the seller.

And it is the “value” that contributed to the setting of that price. Otherwise, how could one phone company charge so much more for their service than another? The simple answer is better coverage, better connection, and better “value”.

The question is, “What do you do that adds “value” to your product or service?”

What sets you apart from your competition?

If the answer is nothing, then you have work to do.

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Comment by Gabrielle Melisende on February 17, 2009 at 7:34pm
Good point. One many seem to lose, and in some cases never get. Consumers want to know what's in it for them and they want real value, whatever that may be to them personally.

Gabrielle Melisende
Destination Graphix
"Driving Success by Design™"
Comment by Laura on January 22, 2009 at 7:49am
You made very good point and I loved the resturant analogy, it really put value into perspective. THanks for sharing this.
Comment by Marcela Garcia Bonini on January 13, 2009 at 8:23am
Briefly, I liked the article a lot. I am myself planning a new branch of my wine business and "value" is THE key thing. I'll bear what you've said in mind but I do believe that although the same concept/ thing may have different value to different people, when it comes to providing a service everybody deserves the same quality for the same price, maybe offering different options helps differentiate.
I don't have a lot of time to participate in blogging, but I do enjoy reading a writing comments ever now and then.
Marcela

Marcela Garcia Bonini
http://flickr.com/people/marcela_garciabonini_cuadros
Comment by nina on December 28, 2008 at 9:26am
my customers are my patients. they trust every word i sat because they know i will nevr cheat them. this is important to me.
Comment by Don & Annabelle @ Zionone on December 27, 2008 at 2:09pm
Value is a concept that is determined by each individual what it means to one person does not necessarily mean the same to another.
Comment by Lance Brown on December 25, 2008 at 10:58am
Warren, reputation is everything isn't it. Especially when all your business comes from word of mouth.

My website
Comment by Sherry Eaton on December 21, 2008 at 5:26pm
Excellent post, Warren. Like many other small businesses, I set myself apart from the rest with my personal customer service. People are actually relieved that they have an honest sales person that actually cares about her client! My Merchants call me before they call the 800 customer service number and that's the way I want it. This ensures many things...

1. I know what is happening with my Merchants and most times I can solve the problem or answer the question.
2. I go through the back line to get to customer service and have them call my Merchant instead of my merchant being on terminal ignore.
3. I am able to track the type of problems so I can address executive management if there is an ongoing problem.
4. I know to follow up, which is critical.
Comment by Kali Kunkle on December 12, 2008 at 9:13pm
Hello Warren,

I am a relatively new member who is wandering around and checking things out. One click led to another and your article title caught my eye. I enjoyed your blog - it is well written, seems sincere and genuine, offered great content (value) to me as a reader, and made me want to read more. Kudos! I will definitely read your other posts when I have time.

We already started a blog before we got here to SUp.biz, but based on what I've read here, we would sincerely welcome your feedback, if you're agreeable to that sort of thing. We blog at http://DreamWorthyGifts.blogspot.com.

Thanks for the great thoughts on value and have a wonderful weekend,

Kali Kunkle
DreamWorthy Gifts LLC
Kali@DreamWorthyGifts.com
www.DreamWorthyGifts.com
Comment by DD Ellis on December 3, 2008 at 12:47pm
I work in a small town, in a small business that has been in business for 35 years. The business offers a service just like many other businesses in our small town. But I think the people who own this business really "got it!" They have coffee made every morning, and as people come in, we offer them a cup of coffee. We have "regulars" who come to drink coffee with us almost every morning...


In his $300,000 per month business he has less than 2% who are 90 days overdue... And most of the people have been his customer since he started...

What he has "tended to" is the VALUE of the CUSTOMER! It started out that he was offering a service they needed, but has grown into lifelong friendships. These customers may be able to buy the same product for a little less down the street, but they continually trade with him.

What I learn from this is, it is what we have been told... if you are offering a comparable product in the marketplace, people will work and trade with you because they like you when you VALUE THEM AS CUSTOMERS!

May You be Blessed As You Bless Others!!!
Comment by Warren A. Veach on November 3, 2008 at 6:24am
Thanks Teresa,

Always good to know somebody thinks the way I do.

Have a GREAT day,
Warren

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