Less than one week before the release of my new book, The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience That Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty, so I thought it appropriate to share some thoughts on how being easy – or convenient – can give you a competitive advantage over your competition.
When your customers can buy what you sell from others, that’s called competition. That also makes it a commodity. If they’re selling the same thing, why should I buy from one company over another? Is it the quality of the product? Is it the price? Is it the customer service?
Your customers want your product to meet their expectations. And, let’s assume it does. Your customers also expect to receive a positive customer service experience. That’s no longer an option. Everyone is striving to create a good experience, at every level. That means, in most situations, your competition is trying to do what you do. So, what happens when you and your competition seem to be similar in quality, price and service? What then? How can you stand out?
Add one more layer of customer experience, a convenient experience, and you can take the business away from your competitor. In other words, be easier to do business with. No friction and no hassle. And, that leads to this very important point:
When great customer service meets convenience, you have the recipe for disruption.
I was talking to the manager of the service and repair center at a major brand automotive dealership. He was trying to find ways to keep his customers coming back to his dealership versus going to an independent repair center. Even with promotions that made their prices competitive with independent repair centers, he struggled to keep his customers. The dealership’s hours of operation were Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. The competitor was open Monday through Friday from 7:30 am until 9:00 pm, as well as hours on Saturday and Sunday. It’s obvious who was more convenient. And, it’s no surprise that the independent repair center is always busy.
Now, I’m not suggesting that the major dealership needs to be open seven days a week, but they should consider hours of operation that are more convenient for their customers.
Within two miles of my home, there are three big-box home improvement stores. They are huge. Two are next door to each other and one of them is directly across the street. And just down the street, there is a much smaller independent Ace Hardware store. You might think these big-box stores with a bigger selection and lower prices would put the Ace Hardware store out of business, but they don’t. When you talk to the customers, many say the same thing, which is something like, “They are just easier to do business with.” What they mean is there is a smaller parking lot with less traffic. And, a smaller store that is easier to get around. Great service, which the competitors also offer, with a more convenient experience, which the competitors don’t offer, is one of the reasons this Ace Hardware store stays in business.
The point is this. All things being equal, if your company is easier to do business with, and the customer knows it, you can win.