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October 8, 2007

Value Added Service

One of the keys to good customer service is exceeding your customer's expectations. By going above and beyond what they expected you to provide you place yourself in their mind as someone they'll want to come back to again in the future. This mornings post from Mike Myatt on Influence Quotient points out that customers avoid doing business with people that they do not like or trust. Similarly, they do business with people and companies they like and trust. Business is constantly evolving and expectations continue to change with that. Whenever Apple releases the new version of their products other companies are forced to release similar changes because customers suddenly expect those features as part of the package.

Unfortunately, exceeding customer expectations can be a tricky task. The key is not to give them something that they don't want and not to make the service to expensive. Every customer has a different set of desires and personalizing service can be a costly proposition. Don't think that every value added service has to be something elaborate. A value added service can be something as simple as easy to use packaging or a simple website. Maybe your value proposition is that you strip out the complexities that your competitors have begun adding to their services. You should always be talking to your customers to figure out what they want and need. Don't sit still and continue to offer the same thing month after month and year after year. Your competitors will quickly steal your market share if you do that.

The key to success is evolution. Last week we talked about the need for innovation, tie those innovative ideas into current lines. Use those as value added services to test if the idea works and gauge customer response to it. If you distinguish yourself by not just doing what you said you would people will notice. Remember that most customers only use 20% or so of any given product or service. This applies to consulting as well. Most clients will never realize all the potential you find within their company but they will remember if you made their life easier and provided them with something they can actually use.

Value added services are the lifeblood of growing businesses. Go that extra distance and people will notice.

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