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Customer Service

January 27, 2020

As a small business owner, what is your objective?  It is to separate your customers from a portion of their money. 

That is the bottom line.  You found a service or product they want or need and you will sell it to them for a price.  They have what you want.  You have what they want. 

The catch is in the question, are you the only one from whom they can purchase that service or product?  Chances are you have competitors.  In recent articles, we have discussed competitive advantage.  When we discuss competitive advantage with our clients, pricing often comes up as the advantage as does product or performance quality. 

The reality is that more often than not your competition can match you on price and performance.  So how do you gain a competitive advantage?  You do it through outstanding customer service.  It is about how well you make the customer feel about their purchase and about how well you take care of them after the sale. 

Guy Kawasaki, a former marketing executive for Apple, says he has learned that the core of entrepreneurship is about making meaning for customers.  He goes on to say that from his observations businesses that start out to make meaning for their customers succeed more often than those that just set out to make money.    He says that for his time at Apple, his and Apple’s whole objective is to enrich the lives of Apple customers.

One way to create meaning is to deliver consistency.  Consistent means just as good as yesterday.  Service must be excellent every day.  Product delivery and presentation must be excellent every day.  Atmosphere, especially for restaurants, must be excellent every day.  Without consistency, it is hard to build repeat customers.

Most businesses need to build repeat customers.  Customers do not always return to businesses when they do not know what to expect.  I quit going to a restaurant that had been touted as an excellent restaurant.  Indeed, my first visit was not disappointing.  However, after that first visit, it was the flip of a coin of if the food would be as good, or if the service would be as good.   

When you create a consistent experience for your customers, you are creating value and meaning.  When your customers value you as a business, they will pay more to get their product or service from you.  How often have you heard someone say, “Well, they charge a little more than the rest, but they stand behind what they sell?”  That business has value because they created consistency and took care of their customers.

“Business Tips” was written by James Leavelle, Business Development Specialist and Senior Certified Business Advisor IV of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center.  For more information on the topic of this article or the services of the ASU · SBDC, contact him at James.Leavelle@angelo.edu. 

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