>The experts are telling us that in today’s economic environment, if you want to keep and build your customer base you need to add value. So what does that mean add value? Really, wouldn’t you say if people want your product or service and you deliver it isn’t that adding value?
Well not exactly, in today’s environment what the experts really mean is that you need to add more value than your competitors. You need to consistently do things that make your customers stand back and say wow. Do things that make them emotionally connect to your company, and do things that make them realize (without you telling them) that you are different from your competitors.
This is more art than science. To add “more value” than your competitors, you really need to be more gray than black and white. Looking for the little things, the little ways and the little connections you can make to really make your customers happy.
Here is a great example of a missed opportunity. Last week, I received a letter from the attorney my husband and I use for our legal services. The letter was asking us to contact their office to set up an appointment if we had any questions or concerns about our account. The letter also asked that if we preferred to be contacted by email to simply call the office.
Well, that sounds like a pretty good letter right? I mean they were proactively reaching out to their customer base. In addition, they also let us know that if we would prefer to communicate in email all we have to do is let them know. Well, why they technically did everything right, they missed the opportunity to add value.
Here is the rest of the story. My husband and I have been clients there for three years, and always communicate through email. I make it clear right from the start, with any of our vendors, that the best way to communicate with us is through email or via cell phone. (Plus, to really add value for your clients, asking how they want to communicate is one of the first questions you should ask.)
In addition, I emailed the office to schedule our appointment asking for a Friday about three to four weeks out. The response I received, was that our attorney was not available on that date, and I was given some Tuesday and Thursday mornings she had time to meet with us. Now again, my husband and I have been clients for three years, and each time we schedule appointments I have to remind them that my husband sees patients all day Monday through Thursday and can only meet after hours or on Fridays.
Lastly, the email closed by letting me know to contact the office as soon as possible if I wanted to secure one of my attorney’s available dates, as she is very busy and could not guarantee the availability of those dates.
I trust that my attorney, by sending this letter, wanted to us to feel valued and engaged as customers. But, at the close of this letter I felt more emotionally disconnected than I had before I received it. Why? It is clear to me they do not really listen to what I say. The very fact that I got a letter asking me if I would prefer to communicate in email, after I have already told them I do. The very fact that I have shared my husband’s schedule with them over and over, yet they still try to schedule me on Tuesday and Thursday, and lastly the reference to how busy my attorney’s schedule is made it sound as if they are doing me a favor in setting this appointment. I mean I am paying for it, shouldn’t accommodating my schedule be more important?
Again, in this economy competition if fierce, the consumer is far more selective, and the available cash to spend on services is limited. Do yourself, your business, and most importantly your customer a favor, and listen to them, acknowledge their needs, respect their time, and remember the details and unique aspects of your relationship with them. Your return on investment will be well worth your time.