By Daniel C. Felsted
Brands should have as their main focus the customer, and their needs and wants. People will pay more for the experience and peace of mind a (strong) brand can offer. All levels of a company should be tuned into a customer’s needs and perceptions.
—Kristine Kirby Webster
In this crowded marketplace, what are you doing to set yourself apart? I worked for a company that was afraid to tell the customer that their warranty was void. They offered a one year warranty which is standard in the industry. But, they would replace anything brought back even if it was 10 years old from the fear that they might make one customer unhappy. This being the case, how much assurance would they give to the market/consumer if they stood up and proudly proclaimed that this was their policy—guaranteed for life? They do it anyway? Why not stand behind their position and act like a leader?
Consider these facts:
• “Customers leave for the following reasons: 1% die, 3% move away, 5% develop other relationships, 9% are searching for a better price or product, 14% are dissatisfied with the product or service they purchased, and 68% are upset with the treatment they received by an employee.” 1
• “Only 4% of customers ever complain. That means your business may never hear from 96% of its customers. That means 96% of unhappy customers just quietly go away because they feel complaining will not do them any good. In fact, complainers are more likely to continue doing business with you than non-complainers.” 1
• “Most customers who complain to you (54%-70%) will do business with you again if you resolve their complaint. If they feel you acted quickly, showed empathy, took ownership, and resolved the problem to their satisfaction–loyalty will skyrocket. Up to 95% of these customers will do business with you again and refer new customers.” 1
• “That’s the reason it’s so important to focus on proactive rather than reactive service.” 1
People are loyal to a business when they feel they’ve been treated well and receive good value for their money (this includes dealing with employees). In the current economy, standing out in a crowd is more important than ever before. You need to take proactive steps to make certain you stand out so your customers do not switch to your competitors. Is there a better way to do this than by taking a stand? By being unique? No. People look to leaders and try to form a bond with them. This validates them.
Next, to superior products, a guarantee is one of the most valuable assets your company can have. If you offer a superior guarantee you are standing behind your product and/or service. A guarantee of Excellence is a necessary stepping-stone to maintaining and building customer loyalty. And customer loyalty is what it’s all about.
Let’s look at some companies that have used this to build revenue. L. L. Bean offers one of the strongest guarantees in the market today*2 and last year sold $1.07 billion of goods. The guarantee made a difference. The loyalty of their customers proves it.
OK. What are some things that you do that can help you stand out in a crowd?
If you are a manufacturer, strive hard to develop unique products and find unique ways to promote them. Consider sponsorships, use your website for how-to guides, offer support, create a community, own your communities market share, or strengthen your customer service. All of these will be spread via word-of-mouth and can be cost-effective ways to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
If you are a retailer, consider image—create a destination, become the professional that customers come to for advice, create a VIP program, improve dress code, create a bounce-back program, offer a newsletter or show off your great service by creating an employee/customer of the month program to name a few.
Remember, you are looking for the things that you do, or can do, that will set you apart from the crowd. When you find them, tout them. Let your customers know how well you do, that which you do. They will recognize it and reward you for your excellence.
Take the time needed to plan and make your future as successful as you want it to be because no one else will do it for you. So, what is your Unique Selling Position?
Daniel C. Felsted is freelance writer specializing in direct marketing, graphic design, customer service, employee retention, & content building. Read more and comment on my blog at http://www.TheImageFoundry.biz.
1 & 2 For reference or to get a copy of L. L. Bean’s Guarantee send me an e-mail and I’ll forward you a copy.
L. L. Bean’s Guarantee
Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We will replace it, refund your purchase price or credit your credit card. We do not want you to have anything from L. L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.
Along with L. L. Bean’s Golden Rule, our Guarantee has made us what we are today: a company that strives to get it right the first time. That’s why every product that bears the L. L. Bean name, since the very first pair of Bean Boots sold in 1912, comes with our rock-solid 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
If you’re not satisfied with your purchase, we’ll replace it or give you your money back. It’s that simple.
In his day, L. L. field tested products himself – or made sure his employees did – before he gave them the L. L. Bean seal of approval. Today, we continue the tradition and include what we learn firsthand about our products in the descriptions you’ll find online and in our catalogs. We hope you’ll find our experience helpful the next time you’re shopping.
How it all began
An avid outdoorsman, our founder L. L. Bean decided he could improve on the typical hunting shoe by stitching a pair of waterproof shoe rubbers to leather tops crafted by a local cobbler. After field testing them himself in the fall of 1911, L. L. sold 100 pairs the following spring. To each pair sold, he attached a tag guaranteeing 100% satisfaction. Within a matter of weeks, the shoes began coming back. Ninety pairs were returned, the rubber bottoms separated from the tops. With a small loan, L. L. quickly refined the shoe, making it stronger – and making good on his promise. He replaced all 90 pairs and in the process established a business and a guarantee that is still going strong.
1 Quoted from the loyalty builder newsletter #55 by Debra Schmidt
2 L. L. Bean’s Guarantee—see above