I’ve got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that you no longer have to keep up with your competition; the bad news is that now you have to keep up with your customer – meaning your customer’s expectation of the service that makes you competitive.
Perhaps you just heard that your competitor is working hard to take away business from you – maybe they’re announcing a new product; maybe they’re advertising a major sale; maybe they’re opening a new location. Will any of these decisions cause your customers to leave you to do business with them?
Perhaps. After all, that is their goal. But what if you heard that your competition wasn’t competing with you on product, price, or location? What if you hear that they’re implementing a new customer service initiative? Their goal, you heard, is to have the best customer service in the industry.
Here’s my take: good for them. Let them go head-to-head with customer service and experience expectations based on the existing industry standards. I have a better idea: don’t let them set your bar. Let the best of the best, regardless of industry standards, set your bar.
What company do you think has the very best customer service? Is it Nordstrom, Apple, or Zappos? Is it the restaurant down the street that knows you by name and makes you feel like a guest in their home? Is it the inside sales rep from one of your suppliers who somehow always accommodates your deadlines and special requests, and always does so with an amazing attitude?
None of these companies or people may be in your industry, but they can be your benchmark for amazing customer service – service that is not based on customer expectations for your industry, but expectations from the best people and companies they’ve ever encountered.
Let me give you this message in a short, 11-word sentence: