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Shred some of those old ideas

It can be easy to impress your customers

A friend writes many of the books that tell you of great customer service in businesses. As we visit I comment that much of his material belongs in the fiction area of the book store instead of the business section as my experiences most frequently differ greatly.

What I most frequently see are businesses spending money onadvertising; getting people and other businesses to purchase goods and services from them. The business does little to provide a great shopping experience, or in the case of business to business transactions, does little to let the customer know they are valued.

The business uses the contact information they gather from their customer and sends them emails, postcards and other communications that often continue the message of a special discount on goods or services. Perhaps within the advertising, there is an unconvincing word or two about their great customer service be it in person, by delivery, or by phone. Of course, the business then wonders why their margins have eroded. There is no customer loyalty because there is no customer service; nor is their anything that makes the experience with the business into something unique. Hence, customers become price shoppers.

Want more examples? Take a look at the airline industry. How about the auto insurance industry? Know anyone that makes a point to purchase a specific brand of gasoline? How many of these advertisements are based on competitive prices? There are many more products, services, and businesses that have been relegated to being a commodity. Unfortunately, it is the businesses selling the products and services that have turned themselves into commodities.

We are not going down the pathway of describing how you should spend money to improve your customer service. Instead, we offer a personal experience with a paper shredder to illustrate that often you can perform small actions that can make a difference in how your customer sees your business.

The paper shredder in our office had finally worn out. It was time to purchase a new one. While I do not remember the brand name of the last shredder, the new one was going to be a shredder made by Fellows.

There was nothing memorable about the purchase or the packaging of the shredder. Simply, the copy describing the shredder helped us to select this make and model.

As with many products, there was a registration card that came with the shredder. The decision was made to register the purchase online; if for no other reason than to see what the manufacturer did to take care of their customers, and surprisingly, it became the basis for this article.

Nothing more was thought of the experience until some six months later. An email came from Fellows with a subject line that was enticing enough for me to take it from the junk mail and read it.

The email stated the manufacturer wanted to make sure the shredder was operating properly and when proper maintenance is performed, the shredder should be in service a long time. To increase the probability of the long life of the shredder, it should be oiled on a regular basis. The call to action line in the email was, “Click on this link to see a video of how to properly oil your shredder”.

There was a short, easy to understand video of how to oil the shredder and how frequently oiling should be done. The video did mention Fellows brand oil, but stated that other shredder oils would also work.
While we are not prepared to solve the issues of commodity pricing by airlines, gas stations, or auto insurance, we saw the video as a lesson for many of us owning small businesses.

Looking at our businesses, we could have videos that explain how to use, or take care of, any of the products we sell. A person starting out as a student artist would surely appreciate the information. They could watch the video in private without having anyone know how little they know about the art supplies they have purchased.

With customers that are teachers, we could have others give insights of how to teach many techniques. Videos could also show how a teaching artist could build their base of students.

The videos are only one method for impressing our customer and separating us from the commodity based competition; there are as many methods as you are creative. However, we can sell products and services based upon the impression we make with our customer instead of with a lower price.

While we cannot find the originator of this quote, it serves us well. “He who becomes a commodity last is the winner”.

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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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Profits Plus Solutions, Inc.
PO Box 1577
St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
Fax: (727) 898-3179