Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, business owners could count their competitors on the fingers of one hand; and they were all neighbors. You could deliver a product or service to a customer, take their money, say “thank you” and, assuming you performed on-time and as promised, could expect them to come right back to you when they needed to make their next purchase.
Well, wasn’t that another fun trip down memory lane?
Here in the 21st century, with consumers and businesses seeming to have more purchasing options – combining traditional and on-line – for whatever they need or want than the numbers in the value of pi, how does a small business hope to compete in the global marketplace?
Well, it turns out that meeting this challenge is not only easy, but can actually be accomplished with little or no budget; and here’s the best news: No one can do it better and more consistently than a small business. I’m talking about delivering service that is so outrageous that it’s a quantum leap above the kind in that long-ago time mentioned earlier and is at a level that blows the doors off of the classic, “value-added service.”
Two of my Brain Trust members, Chip Bell and John Patterson, world-class customer care experts and authors of Customer Loyalty Guaranteed, call this new service level “Imaginative Service.” And your imagination shouldn’t stop until, as they say, you’ve “taken your customer’s breath away.” Here’s an example and it happened to me:
I went to a local supermarket and picked something up at the fish counter. I asked that person where something unrelated to her work was in the store. Not only did she tell me which aisle it was on; but she walked out of her department and, virtually taking me by the hand, led me to the product I asked about. Now, regular service was having what I wanted in stock; value-added service was this lady knowing something that was out of her area. But what this employee did for me was outrageous, breath-taking, imaginative service. Guess where I buy all of my groceries?
Chip and John joined me on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, recently to talk about this topic, which I think is one of the keys to survival for small businesses over the next 12 months. And let me repeat: It costs virtually nothing. Take a few minutes to listen to our conversation – you won’t be disappointed. And be sure to leave a comment and especially an example of breath-taking service you’ve performed or received.