What sets you apart from your competitors? You don’t know? You have to know. This is what will define you as a company going forward. It will literally make or break you. If you don’t have a plan to differentiate yourself, you’re already sunk. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be difficult. Most companies mess up in 5 key areas. All you have to do is get these things right, and you’ll be ahead of 95 percent of your competition.
- Work On Customer Support and Loyalty
Overhaul your customer service department. This is probably the last place companies spend money and time, and you need to do the opposite. There’s not much of a return on investment if you’re looking at the balance sheet, and this is exactly why it’s often overlooked by large corporations (and even small companies).
Examples of companies that somehow do manage to get this right include Amazon and Zappos – the latter having legendary customer service (even though Amazon now owns the company). Need examples? Fine. In 2011, Zappos sent flowers to a woman who ordered six different pairs of shoes because her feet were horribly damaged by medical treatments she was receiving at the time.
A customer service rep once physically went to a rival shoe store just to get a specific pair of shoes for a woman staying at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Vegas – Zappos was out of the shoe the customer wanted but this didn’t deter the service rep.
A rep also overnighted a pair of shoes to a best man who had arrived at a wedding shoeless – and the company did it for free.
The company once paid the tolls on the Mass Turnpike for an entire day for all customers on the road. Wow.
The customer service reps don’t read from scripts. In fact, they get 7 weeks of training on how to please customers. Model this behavior and you’ll end up a superstar in your own industry. Yes, really.
- Update Your Point-of-Sale System
A lot of companies are still using wired systems because they just don’t want to spend the money on upgrading. They don’t see the point of doing it, and they won’t change their mind, usually because the decision-maker is stubborn and set in his or her ways.
Yet, this is the very thing that causes businesses to go out of business or get lost in the shuffle. Don’t become complacent. A Vend iPad POS system, for example, is free to try out so you’re not risking anything by changing.
What’s more, these systems usually cost a few thousand dollars. That’s insanely cheap compared to the $25,000 for a new wired system.
- Stop Employee Theft
Employee theft is still a problem in most businesses, unfortunately. Statistics of employee theft place it around just 7 percent annually, but 75 percent of employees have stolen at least once from their employer. A shocking 37.5 percent of employees have stolen at least twice from their employer.
A full 33 percent of of all business bankruptcies are due to employee theft. So, it’s something to nip in the bud, because it could literally put you out of business.
- Add New Product Lines
Adding new product lines is one sure-fire way to guarantee you at least have name recognition. Even if the products flop, the more of them out in the marketplace, the better. Take a cue from companies like Apple and Amazon that consistently and constantly push the boundaries to release new products every year. This is a behavior you want to adopt pronto.
- Underpromise and Overdeliver
If you were to change one thing in your business starting today, it should be to underpromise and overdeliver. This is something that’s so rare in business that your customers might actually feel guilty about giving you money.
If you do the opposite, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success and an extremely loyal customer base. For example, let’s say you sell flowers for a living. You could advertise that a bouquet on your website and just give the customer what is advertised.
That’s not bad, but it’s also very “ho-hum.” Instead, advertise a bouquet and then deliver a free glass vase (a nice one), 10 percent more flowers than what was ordered, and a small booklet containing tips and advice on keeping the flowers fresh.
That kind of service always builds goodwill with customers and it’s the only real proven way to get unsolicited positive reviews – also good for business.
Francois Bondiguel is from Vend, a point-of-sale, inventory, and customer loyalty software that helps over 10,000 retailers manage and grow their business. Connect with Francois on Google+ and LinkedIn.
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