There are many ways for a business to “stand out from the crowd.” One approach is to give your customers more of what they ask for as a customer service improvement. If others are fast, you go faster. If others are clean, you be cleaner. If others are cheap, you can discount deeper. If your competitors offer a lot, you offer even more.
This approach has obvious problems. Firstly, your top position can be overtaken by anyone else offering “even more.” Secondly, the cost of escalation can become overwhelming, making the customer service improvement a real problem. You need happy customers but healthy profits, too.
A different approach is worth your time and effort: Find completely new and different ways to surprise, intrigue, support, nurture and delight your clients with a customer service improvement that really wows them.
For example, international airlines compete on big seats, quality service, good wine and movies. But Virgin Atlantic was first to offer neck and shoulder massages on all long-distance flights. They stand out in the airline crowd because of this distinct customer service improvement.
Most quick-service restaurants provide clean counters, fast delivery and low prices. But McDonald’s puts enormous, colorful slides for children inside their restaurant buildings. McDonald’s french fries are made from potatoes, much like everyone else’s. Their play space stands out in the fast-food crowd.
How many times have you left your tube of toothpaste wet, wrinkled and gooey on the bathroom sink? Procter & Gamble helped solve the problem with the first stand-up toothpaste tube. Their toothpaste container stands out from the crowd because it offers a unique customer service improvement.
The Garden Café in Dubai serves many customers who are bachelors, always on the move and short of time. So the Café provides a lunch and dinner buffet of good food and drinks, but also irons your shirts and shines your shoes while you eat!
You can do this, too. (Stand out from the crowd, not the laundry.)
Anyone can compete by doing “more” of what’s already expected. But there’s another way to be distinctive: Be different! It’s a customer service improvement people will take note of.
Make a list of all the “usual ways” your organization offers good customer service. Now think of different ways you could surprise, intrigue or delight with an unusual customer service improvement.
What bothers your customers? How can you fix it? What do they do before or after your service? How can you integrate it? What do they bring, carry or take away? How can you replace it?
The first bookstore to offer plush chairs and fresh coffee changed the industry completely. The first bank that offered drive-through service transformed our expectations. What can YOU do to stand out, stand up – be different?Copyright, Ron Kaufman. Used with permission. Ron Kaufman is the world’s leading educator and motivator for upgrading customer service and uplifting service culture. He is author of the bestselling "UP! Your Service" books and founder of UP! Your Service. To enjoy more customer service training and service culture articles, visit UpYourService.com.
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About Ron Kaufman
Ron is one of the world’s most sought-after educators, consultants, thought-leaders and customer service speakers in achieving superior service.
He is the author of New York Times bestseller ‘Uplifting Service’ and 14 other books on service, business and inspiration. Ron is also a regular columnist at Bloomberg Business Week and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today.