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How to Lead In Your Market: The WOW Factor

2011 | Oct 12 in Home Page News , Lead Generation , Lead Conversion

By Bobby Burns, E-Myth Business Coach

If your market’s perception of what you sell – your service or product – is no different from others in your trading area, you sell a commodity.  And if that’s the perception, (so pervasive that even you accept it) you’re in a dangerous trap because the only way you can compete is on price.  And that’s a recipe for disaster. 

When your product is a commodity – gas, phone service, accounting, insurance, gifts, car repair, housecleaning, real estate, consulting (insert your business here – because anything can be reduced to a commodity if you permit it) – then it is your business that must become the product.  It is your business that is the differentiator.  Your business is never a commodity.  Your business is absolutely unique.  It is, after all, your business!

So then, your product is your customers’ experience of your business – an experience that distinguishes and elevates it above and beyond all those other businesses claiming to be selling the same thing. 


Wow Them From the Beginning


It has been said that first impressions last. This is certainly true of the customer experience. If the initial exposure to your company creates positive impressions, the customer is primed for further positive experiences and will be positively biased. If initial exposures are negative, customers anticipate more of the same.  You can sometimes reverse negative impressions, but you may not get the chance. 

Everything your business does that has any direct or indirect impact on your customers has to be recognized, evaluated, and managed with the clear intention of creating the most consistent, impactful, and memorable experience possible. That’s what will bring customers to you and keep them with you for the long haul. That’s what will stimulate them to share you within their sphere of influence.

Remember, it does you no good to do everything right once.  You have to create those unique, positive impressions from the start, and then ensure the customer experience stays positive and consistent throughout repeated exposures.  It’s far easier and less expensive to get ahead and stay ahead (get positive and stay positive) than it is to reverse a negative situation or tread water in a fickle market that only responds to price.

The underlying strategy for creating the best possible customer experience and loyalty begins with your lead generation activities.  Your customers’ very first impressions come from something they see, hear or read that positively attracts their attention and sets up their expectations. If your initial message is “The Friendliest Market in the County” or “The Contractor’s Hardware Store,” then everything you do – and most critically, everything your customer experiences from that point forward – must consciously and intentionally support and confirm that message to reinforce that favorable impression and further distinguish you from your competitors.

Exceed their expectations. Surprise and delight them.


Wow Them with Little Unexpected Things


The variety of things a business owner can do to create and sustain a memorable customer experience is endless. It starts from the very first phone call or email response.

A real estate agent we know goes above and beyond in a number of ways for her clients. Her first-time homebuyers find a gift basket waiting for them in the front room. The basket contains a beautiful thank-you card, a selection of new, basic kitchen utensils, and a gift card from a local restaurant to allow them to take their move-in helpers out for dinner. 

One of my clients shared the story of buying her first used car from a local dealer.  As she got in to drive it home she found a bouquet of roses on the passenger seat. She was as impressed with the flowers as she was with the freshly detailed vehicle and shining, dressed tires!

Another client, a residential remodeling contractor, has begun creating photographic chronicles of his clients’ projects and then presenting it in the form of a hard-bound memory album. The cost is insubstantial and insignificant in light of the surprise and delight it brings to his customers.

An automotive shop in my town transformed his lobby from a cold, uninviting space with cracked linoleum floors and stacks of dated magazines to an oasis.  He carpeted the floor, installed a flat-screen television, provides free Wi-Fi, a coffee and espresso bar, fresh fruit, and a number of comfy chairs and sofas. He reports that, instead of fleeing, as they used to, customers stay around to take a break, drink coffee, and use their laptops! 

A client raved recently about her dry cleaner.  He is definitely not the only dry cleaner in town.  He is not the least expensive, and he’s a considerable distance from her home.  So, what did he do that was unique enough to cause someone like Suzanne to consistently to go out of her way and spend more than she might need to? The free garment bag they provided was a plus. The friendly reminders they give her about upcoming social events are nice, as are the little cedar blocks they provide for her stored clothing.   But what turned her into a raving fan one rainy day was the “valet” service they offered that allowed her to call from the parking lot and have her clothes delivered to her car!

Simple.  Unique.  Memorable.


Building a memorable customer experience:


1.    Consider what you are promising.  What do you want your customers’ expectations to be?  What can you learn from studying your competitors about their promises?


2.    Identify all the elements, or touch points, in your customers’ experience that either confirm and reinforce, or compromise your promise.


3.    Evaluate your potential for consistency and repeatability at these touch points.  Does it only work if you’re at the counter or on the phone?  What would you have in place (system, process, scripting, check-list?) to guarantee that your customers’ positive expectations are satisfied at every point, no matter who they encounter?


4.    Keep your focus, and encourage your staff to maintain the same level of attention to creating, innovating, and maintaining the best possible unique customer experience. 

This positioning and differentiating will draw new customers to you and cement the ones already doing business with you. If you aren’t currently the best in your market, you soon will be!

Editor’s note:  What was the simple, unique, or memorable experience you’ve had with a business that made you a raving fan?  What have you done in your own business to surprise, delight, and WOW your customers that reinforces their loyalty?


Comments

  1. .Jennifer W. says:

    Great article!  As a Running Specialty shop, Mojo Running & Multisport,  I truly know the importance of the customer experience.  If we lose the customer to a not so good experience the big box stores, other shops and internet are sure to eat them up.  Thanks for the reminder!

    Submitted Oct 12, 2011 11:59 AM

  2. .Philip L. says:

    A while ago I bought a fairly expensive second hand motor car. The dealer gave me a gift which was a bag and something else I can't remember. I was a little taken aback with the way it was presented, the finish of the bag was cheaply done, but then even more taken aback when someone who have just bought a vehcile on 1/5 of the value of mine was presented with the exact same gift. This happened over a year ago. We all need to be careful how we approach this issue because something seemingly insignificant can have a lasting impact on the customer.

    Submitted Oct 12, 2011 12:28 PM

  3. .Peter B. says:

    This article made me laugh because I'm a remodeling contractor.  It's pretty easy to have "Wow Factor" with my clients: 

    • Return phone calls
    • Show up to appointments on time
    • Call if you’re running late
    • Get projects done when agreed upon for the price agreed upon
    • Be honest

    Those are just the basics of any business, but unfortunately, many people in my business don't bother.  Sometimes just doing the basics well will "Wow" clients because they are so used to average.

    Submitted Oct 12, 2011 7:02 PM

  4. .Brian W. says:

    What made me a raving fan?  I called a local furnace service company to make an appointment for routine pre-winter servicing of my 6-year old heating and ventilation system.  After asking me a few questions about my system, the person who could have made the appointment and earned $150 for his company told me that the type of system I have shouldn't need servicing for at least another 5-years.  IMAGINE THAT; an absolutely service company!  Not only will I be back when the time comes, but my friends will also

    What did I do in my company to encourage customer loyalty?  After many years of missed delivery dates on custom designed and manufactured attachments for heavy equipment, I asked my staff to prepare to offer our customers $100 per day for every day we were late delivering according to our promises.  After several weeks of very collaborative preparation, we launched the program covering everything from a $0.50 O-ring seal to a $200,000 tire manipulator.  The program was a resounding success both from our internal operations perspective but with our clients which included dealers for brand names such as Caterpillar, Komatsu and all the others.  IMAGINE THAT; we didn't go broke and our customers loved us!

    Submitted Oct 13, 2011 8:21 AM

  5. .Cherie M. says:

    A wonderful book by John G. Miller called the QBQ! The Question Behind the Question has several compelling stories of excellence in customer service that are akin to what Peter B. is saying. We all to often forget what should be the basic good customer service expectations our clients should have of us. Thanks for the reminders!

    Submitted Oct 17, 2011 7:32 AM


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