Why is it that so many people in business and almost everyone in the media persist in equating being competitive solely with price?
The word goes out that high street retailers are (still) being terminally hit by unscrupulous competition online at vastly lower prices.
As usual the examples of these generalisations are carefully crafted to justify the premise and without any counterbalancing evidence to the contrary.
In fact many high street retailers do not look upon online offerings as competition but rather as another opportunity to market their wares in a format that is additional to the traditional.
The fact is that competition shows itself in many guises other than price. Firstly, is this product what I want? Then how quickly is it available, is there a well-known brand, will the quality be what I want, how reliable is the seller and finally, how much?
Several of these questions can be unsaid and we spend nanoseconds in running them past but occur they do, unless we happen to be relentless impulse shoppers.
I have long advocated, whether B2B or B2C, leaving price considerations to the end of a marketing decision process and looking at other ways to encourage and satisfy the purchaser.
Great service is one that makes a vast difference to the buying experience and while it can be a process, in the end it should be one of the values that we espouse and should be effectively a major strand of the culture of the business.
Indeed I cannot see why instead of great service we cannot offer exceptional service.
This thought, I confess, has been sparked by a service level that I have personally experienced from two major suppliers, one national and one global, that I have used lately.
The national supplier is supermarket giant Sainsbury’s and as I don’t drive anymore I decided to try out their home delivery service rather than getting a taxi to the store.
The web based ordering process is somewhat clunky and took a little effort to understand and use but now I have some experience it is easy. So where does exceptional service come in?
It comes from the drivers who deliver my orders. After some weeks and meeting several of these gentlemen (and I do mean, gentlemen) I am in awe of a recruitment process that can find, appoint and employ such brilliant ambassadors for the company.
Always pleasant and cheerful, ready to assist in any way possible, they and by definition Sainsbury’s, give exceptional customer service.
The global company is Apple. I recently acquired a large version iPad which I love and was distressed one day to discover a hairline crack across the top right corner of the screen.
The iPad was still within warranty but a bout if flu took me perilously close the the deadline so I called Applecare to discuss. A charming lady based in Greece took my call, took over the iPad remotely and sorted out all the necessary background stuff and the made an appointment for me at the Apple Genius Bar in the nearest Apple store.
The young genius who served me was equally charming, smiling and helpful. When I told him my problem and emphasised that I hat I had not dropped my iPad, he said calmly “We don’t repair faults on the screen so we will replace the iPad for you”
This he did, transferred everything over to the new device, sorted out a software problem that I had and finally said to me:
“Thank you, that was a great first customer and a great start to my working day!”
He thanked me!
Consider this. Neither Apple or Sainsbury’s are low price suppliers but not only would I not even consider trying out their competitors but I am delighted to tell the (or at least, the world of Ivan’s Blog) how exceptional they both are.
Vistage speaker Malcolm Smith says it’s not about the price. I believe it’s the power of giving exceptional service.
Visit the Vistage UK website