Here’s a question for you, don’t over think it, it’s not a trick question. What does Harley-Davidson Manufacture? Motorcycles, right? Sure they are in to other things like apparel but, they make motorcycles. OK, here’s another question for you, this one is the trick question. What does Harley-Davidson sell? Now your answers may be more like, the open road, bad-boy image, or an American style. What does a good realtor sell? To some it may be the American Dream, for others it may be an investment. What does a good travel agent sell? For you it may be rest and recreation. For me, when I’m talking with my travel agent, I know I’m going someplace to earn money.
The next slight edge is ‘be of service.’ Companies that deliver great customer service, don’t talk about what their products and services are, they talk about what their products and services do for the customer—how they serve. More specifically, they talk about how their product or service will help customers reach their goals or fix their problems or make them feel; how it will serve.
Talking about how your product or service will serve the customer is how you can differentiate yourself from the competition. If you’re a home builder, and you talk about the homes you build in terms of brick and mortar, you’re going to sound like every home builder. If you’re a banker, and you talk about your IRA programs as being an investment for the future, you’ll sound like every other banker. Speak in terms of how these things serve, and you find your customers are loyal because they feel you understand them.
Author and speaker Bruce Turkel has helped create some of the world’s most compelling brands. In his books he writes and in a TEDx Talk on YouTube he talks about the three key words to building a brand are, ‘all about them.’ As in, it’s all about the customer, the person you want to serve. This is what I’ve been saying about ‘be of service’ for years, the focus is not on you or your products and services, it’s on the customer.
To the customer, when you speak in terms of being of service, you sound different than your competition. The average company, the company that delivers poor customer service, will talk about their products as if it is the very thing we’re buying, we’re not. We’re buying what the product will do for us. And in this age of commodity and competition, many times the only way the average company can differentiate themselves is by price, a lower price. When in fact, according to a Harvard study, companies that deliver great service, have a 15 to 20 % cost advantage, they get to charge more.
All of your communication with customers should center on how you are of service to them. Emails, brochures, advertisings, signage, all should state how you are of service. This is not the attitude of, “What’s in it for me?” It’s the attitude of, “What’s in it for you?”
Being of service is the most rewarding of all the “7 Slight Edges” because it helps to meet our desire to leave a legacy. When we help our customers to meet their needs and goals they will always remember us and be loyal to us. And when they return time and time again to do business with us, we will strengthen our legacy, a legacy of service.