Three easy ways to make your services stand out

21 August 2015 Kieron Johnson

It isn’t always easy for your company’s services to stand out in a crowded market. So, we’ve looked at three simple ways your services can sizzle their way to soaring profit levels. Get ready for your services to stand head and shoulders above the competition.

With a little creativity and a watchful eye on the market, your business can provide services unrivalled by your competitors. In the second of a three-part series, we look at how to make your services stand out from the crowd. Business can be quite unforgiving.

We live in a world where consumers are issuing ever-growing lists of demands – holding businesses to random by wielding the weapon of mass social media exposure. Consumers want more for less, on their timetable, faster than ever before.

Having your company’s services stand out in such a competitive environment has never been more crucial than it is today. We’ll show you how.

1.Make customer service count

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Courtesy doesn’t cost, but it does count.

Oftentimes, friendly and knowledgeable staff members are the foundation of what’s needed to build a relationship with your customers. And if they’re ready, willing and able to sort out a customer’s complaint at the drop of a hat, without qualm or quibble, that’s the icing on the cake.

John Lewis epitomises all of this and almost everybody loves the quintessential English partnership. (The department store’s heartstring-tugging 2014 Christmas ad featuring Monty the Penguin, which is its most viral ad ever, has only increased its stock.) But the main reason most people can’t get enough of John Lewis is its reputation for providing the best customer service on the high street, bar none.

According to the Institute of Customer Service’s UK Customer Satisfaction Index 2015, John Lewis retained the top spot from the July 2014 Index.

Fortunately, customer service is something your business can get a handle on – setting it aside from rivals big and small – without setting you back a pretty penny.

Here’s how to follow in John Lewis’ footsteps.

Give staff a reason to care about customer service

To instil a sense of ownership, give staff a stake in your business – shares, bonuses, etc.

John Lewis executive chairman, Charlie Mayfield, says:

“We’re based on the notion that, if we treat our partners well, it will lead to good customer service.”

Empower staff to make independent decisions

Once they’re fully-trained, encourage staff to be enterprising by making their own judgement calls in customer service situations.

This gives them ownership of the problem and strips the dreaded waiting time for a supervisor to be called, briefed and so on.

Ask front-line staff about customers’ needs

Ask customer-facing staff to ask customers what they think, feel and want. Record the results, then act on them to improve the customer service experience.

Maintain online customer service levels

The difficulty of replicating the personal touch of an offline service is all the more reason to keep your online customers fully engaged.

If an online customer is struggling on your site, ensure there’s a live operator onboard to give them a helping hand.

2.Deliver whenever, wherever

Time-poor customers can make your business rich.

Convenience is the main priority for today’s consumers. ‘Click & Collect’ services are ideal for customers who want to collect their purchases whenever and wherever they choose. Businesses are fans of Click & Collect because it drives footfall into stores and is a significant differentiator from online-only outlets.

Research carried out by Planet Retail predicts that just over three-quarters of online consumers in the UK are set to use Click & Collect by 2017 (more than double the percentage it was in 2014).

Speaking last year, Global Research Director at Planet Retail, Natalie Berg, said:

“Click & Collect is poised for explosive growth in the UK. Shoppers are already accustomed to browsing and transacting on their own terms – choice in fulfilment is the final piece to the puzzle. Within the next three years, we’re expecting more than three-quarters of online shoppers to collect their own items. Two of the biggest barriers to buying online are cost of delivery and inconvenient delivery times, making Click & Collect an increasingly attractive option for both shoppers and retailers.”

The study commends John Lewis, Next, Amazon, Tesco and Asda as representing best practice examples of ‘Click & Collect.’

If Click & Collect looks like something you think will deliver for your business (excuse the pun), take your cue from these top tips on how to get it off the ground:

  1. Make space to receive and store parcels in-store.
  2. Designate a signage and parcel collection point.
  3. Implement a clear customer parcel collection process.
  4. Use a parcel tracking/management system.

3.Deliver with devilish speed

Good old-fashioned speedy delivery will never go out of season.

Amazon is taking rapid-fire delivery to the next level.

Amazon Prime has a one-hour delivery service. So far, the fastest-ever recorded delivery in London (from Bow to Canary Wharf) took a mere 12 minutes. Enticing customers aplenty, delivery with this kind of turbo-boosted speed would even give Knight Rider a run for its money.

Managing director of Amazon UK, Christopher North, said:

“Since launching Prime Now, we’ve seen high demand on everything from essentials, like bottled water, coffee and nappies to must-have products, like the latest video games and devices – all available for delivery in less than 60 minutes. We are excited to continue delivering to customers in record-breaking time.”

By paying attention to customer service, speed or flexibility, your business can provide stand-out service that attracts and retains customers near and far – all at low (or no) cost.