No matter what it is that you are selling, be it a product or a service, chances are that you have competitors who offer similar products at an equal or maybe even better price than you do.
That being said, it is therefore of major importance that you set yourself apart from the others in some recognisable way – and there is no better way to differentiate yourself than through your individual approach to your customer.
As business owners we need to be continually asking ourselves how we can add value to our customer relationships. If all we do is sell a product or service, then we aren’t value adding – we are simply reacting to our customers need at that particular point in time. Even by providing a solution to a customer’s problem, as I discussed in last week’s article, we are still only reacting to a known need. To add value to our self we need to help our customer’s look forward and assist them in determining their future needs before they reach the situation itself.
One way of increasing our value in the eyes of our customers is to place ourselves in the prized situation of becoming their own personal strategic advisor. Become the person they seek out for ideas, guidance, and ideas and basically being their ‘go to’ person in situations that call for your knowledge, skills and area of expertise.
Making yourself both visible and accessible is paramount when it comes to establishing and maintaining an ongoing connection with customers. Meeting with people in person is an ideal way to position your business onestep higher than your competitors – try to become the person they remember having a face-to-face discussion with, more so than just another business they have stumbled across via an impersonal website or Facebook page.
Rising to the level of being their trusted advisor and go-to person can be time consuming, but this approach has many benefits in strengthening customer relationships – and after all isn’t that what our ultimate goal is?
By being in regular personal contact we have the opportunity to build strong and trusting relationships with future and current clients. We are able to learn their needs, understand their situation and gauge their motivation – both directly and through any non-verbal clues as well. Personal contact enables us to see firsthand the many facets of our clients that often remain hidden during discussions on the phone or via digital means. By establishing a clearer understand of our customers’ needs and values we are then better positioned to create personal ‘wow’ moments for them.
Become the Unexpected
Being able to give customers something that they did not expect is another great way of showing them that you value their relationship, and that you care about them beyond the typical client/customer affiliation.
Tom Peters, the world renowned customer-service guru, talks about “wowing and delighting customers” and how it can be these often small acts-of-wow that place us higher than our competitors in our customer’s eyes. On a personal level I have a lovely friend who often surprises me with ‘unbirthday’ gifts – little things that he has come across that he knows I would like, usually things I haven’t asked for but always something I appreciate. Giving me these small but greatly loved surprises shows me that he values our relationship, and is often thinking of me and my individual needs. Imagine celebrating these unbusiness moments with our clients? Letting our customers experience those ‘oh wow, you thought of me!’ moments, especially when there is no financial benefit to us – is a great way of adding value to our customer relationships.
Moving Beyond the Standard Relationship
When we move beyond treating people simply as ‘a customer with a need’, and treating ourselves as ‘just another service provider who can fulfil that need’, we begin to form a valuable bond with our customers – one that if done correctly can elevate us above our competition and may ultimately tip the scales in our favour when our services are required.
If you have any other ideas on how to elevate yourself in your clients eyes I would love to hear them. Please feel free to share your own ideas in the comments section below.