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Extreme Customer Service

How competition causes businesses to change

Retailing continues to change. Examine any decade this century, and you will see something that changed the way retailing has been presented to the consumer. It does not matter which industry we are discussing, someone or some company had an idea of how to present the products and services in a different manner. Once these ideas were implemented, everything changed.

Need some examples? Look how McDonalds changed fast food, or how Domino's changed pizza with their delivery service. Prescription filling was changed by the advent of chain stores, and then again by the mail order prescription filling services.

At this point, every retailer has heard, and been told many times over, that customer service is the factor that most competition fails to utilize. A consistent and high quality customer service continues to be the ingredient that can set you apart. There is a saying of, "If you are unique, you have no competition." Truer words were never spoken.

As compared to repeatedly hearing this idea, allow me to share with you some evidence that some of the "big businesses" are finding ways to deliver high quality customer service.

Instead of going to a local retailer, Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Books A Million, try shopping for your next book at And while you will have to wait for the book to be delivered, you will be in for a pleasant surprise the next time you go online to order another book; the Amazon web page will now address you by name. Amazon now reports that 60% of its' business comes from those that have previously shopped with it.

The same type of story is true for the person purchasing a compact disc of their favorite music. With one of the online services, not only does the service remember who you are, but it begins to create and build an "online music store" designed expressly to your musical taste.

A group of these and other internet sellers of goods and services report that with this customer personalization, the number of customers that are new has increased by 47%. Even more noticeable is that their revenue is up 52% after one year of this personalization.

Others are jumping on the bandwagon. One data research company reported that 40% of online companies surveyed were utilizing personalization with another 53% reporting they will be using online personalization within the next year. And, what is the payoff? Considering the cost of providing this online personalization, these businesses report that on average they have recovered these costs within seven months. And after 10 months, the return is 200% on their investment dollars, with a return of 300% after only one year.

If you are not planning on creating an "online" division of your business, or if your business does not lend itself to selling online, you may wonder what this information has to do with you and your company. The point to be made is that we are observing situations where machinery is being designed to provide what most businesses fail to deliver.

When was the last time in your shopping experiences a person approached you and introduced themselves as the owner or the manager of the business in which you were shopping?

Imagine this situation; You are selecting new clothing in a local store, and as you are completing the sale, the sales person asks for your name, address, and phone number. The sales person explains that in keeping this information, they will call you the next time the store receives similar merchandise so that you could have the first opportunity to examine the new selection.

Don't you think you will be apt to make repeated visits to this store, and will even go so far as to ask for the same sales person to assist you? This is what the online services are doing, and we now know that the idea of extreme customer service is paying tremendous dividends.

These online companies have done nothing more than what many of the best retailers have done for the past century; they have found ways to promote themselves in an effort to get the customers to continue to do business with them. While we were unable to find statistics for online shopping, we do know that the traditional business can spend $4.00 to retain the customers they have today as compared to spending $20 to obtain a new customer.

From the standpoint of achieving results similar to the booksellers and the compact disc sellers, traditional retailers can obtain similar results at a greatly reduced cost. Ongoing training programs for employees have time and again been shown to greatly enhance the impression they give to their customers. And, according to information from one of the major business colleges, businesses that have a high level of commitment to their customers also benefit from lower turnover. It would seem that solving one problem (permanent customers) lends itself to helping resolve another (employee turnover).

Who would have anticipated the arrival of so many unique and different ways of marketing? Yet, with every new way of marketing, they all want to duplicate the oldest and best way of getting the customer to return time and again to your business, "Hello Mr. Pearcy. It's nice to see you again. How did your purchase of last week work out for you?"

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
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