I’m sure you know the feeling; you begin to feel weirdness in your jaw. You’ve had that feeling before so you can identify the problem, but you choose to deny it. Having suffered all weekend long, I found myself in the dreadful chair; the dentist chair. After a fairly quick assessment, all parties determined that I needed a root canal. After a successful procedure, I left the office still numb from the Novocain. As the Novocain wore off, I quickly felt a great deal of pain; very different than what I initially went to the dentist’s office for. The pain radiated along the entire left side of my face. I know now that this can be an after effect of root-canal work, but at the time all I knew was seemingly unrelated and nearly unbearable pain. After attempting to tough it out through a torturous night of throbbing and stabbing sleep depravation, I knew I had to go back to the chair.
Dr. Delgado, a local endodontist, saw my pain and went right to work. Delgado found the cause of the pain, and was able to treat it. What is extraordinary, however, was how Delgado’s office delivered both treatment of the medical need and world-class customer service.
While this was my first visit to this doctor’s office, it surely won’t be my last. Throughout my entire experience, Delgado’s office provided the care above and beyond expectations. From the moment I walked into the door, everyone was very pleasant and understanding. At one point during my procedure, I had to wait for a couple of hours before the doctor could proceed. The dental assistants clearly saw how exhausted I was from the sleepless night before and prepared a private darkened room with pillows and blankets for me to rest. Further, they provided beverages and a snack while I waited. We can all learn something from the way Delgado and his staff take care of their customers. It’s a level of customer service we don’t see every day. I would like to see more companies delivering this kind of service day in and day out.
Great customer service is the best form of marketing that you can deliver. Take care of every touch point to every customer and your retention levels will rise. You’ll also bring in more new clients as your happy clients spread the word to other potential customers. Believe it or not, great customer service is obtained by handling the details. It’s all about the details. The endodontist got to the root of my pain, but it was the way they handled the details that will keep me coming back. From the moment a customer walks into your place of business, the experience begins. Each of us can practice this in our own lives and businesses.
Compare, contrast and dive into the little things you can improve for your customers. The best way to know what your customer wants is to simply ask them. Survey your customers over a period of two weeks, and have them rate your service. Actively solicit suggestions how can we make your experience better? Mystery shop your competition to find out how you can stand out from the crowd and offer not just competitive, but phenomenal customer service.
Have a customer service check-up with your staff. Look at it this way: if you insist on your staff providing great customer service, you will more than likely be able to spend less on advertising. Word of mouth is a major component in advertising for any company. People are very quick to tell you about their bad experiences with a company, and will always recommend great places as a result from a good experience.
Surely I’m not recommending Delgado’s office as a hotel or a restaurant, but it definitely is a great place to have a root canal.
MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at Malcolm@Teasdaleworldwide.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com. You may also e-mail Kathi Kasel at Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com or call (813) 868-1520. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.
One of these pivotal issues is differentiating your brand.
The pivotal question is: Does my name stand out or is it just another noodle in the soup?
There are a few key elements to differentiating your brand persona.
These are not just the graphics, the look of your logo, or packaging.
Walk the talk
An essential way to differentiate your brand is through your customer-centric actions. Every day, each employee is impacting your brand in some way. Some of these actions are positive and some are not so positive. Internal marketing is often overlooked in today’s business. Yet it is a key component in building a brand. You can’t build a brand through just fancy graphics, packaging or a logo.
Start by getting everyone on the same sheet of music. Do they all understand the importance of customer service details? Are they delivering this every hour of every day? Make it a point to meet with them regularly to discuss the finer points of your brand attitude and what areas of the business need improving.
Speak your customers’ language
The design element plays a factor, but can’t sustain real brand value. Crafting the right message is the result of really doing your homework and should follow the guideline of communicating the result how life is better for your customer when he or she buys from you. The crux of this situation is that “better” for them has to be from their perspective, not yours. Have you discovered your customer’s UBAs unique buying advantages?
Using an iconic approach to your brand identity creates homogenization rather than differentiation by definition. A more strategic approach would be to incorporate a design element that visually reinforces your strengths and communicates the results and the benefit that your customer enjoys after selecting your brand over the others.
I call it brand-uniqueness, or standing out from the crowd. All too many ads look like other ads. Companies hire agencies/graphic houses to throw designs together and rush to market. Flip your business telephone directory to the attorney’s section. Look at all the scales, columns, renderings of “blind justice” and a few gavels here and there. It’s pretty difficult to find one that stands out from the others.
A sure thing
Uniformity in applying your brand identity is a crucial step in building a brand that connotes strength, longevity, trust and solidity. Your brand persona should have standard versions for when used in black and white, in color, shown in reverse on a dark background, etc. These standards of presentation are professionally documented in a style guide that becomes the official policies and procedures manual for the expression of your brand.
Our final word on the subject is “consistency” both in your internal marketing and in your overall messaging. Even though you may be tired of looking at your logo and message in about six months, your customers need at least 20 impressions for it to register. Staying the course in presenting your brand to the world communicates dependability a universally understood and valued quality to customers. Your name will stand out.
Look to next month’s column to discover how to filter to your unique selling advantages (USAs) and harness the power of your customer’s unique buying advantages (UBAs).
MALCOLM TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain a detailed presentation of the “Business Genetics: The 4 Ps of Organizational Excellence” program, e-mail Kathi Kasel at Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.
How to get started
It all starts with the brand discovery meeting. Gather between five and eight employees for an interactive branding session. The objective of this discovery meeting is to determine those very special Unique Selling Advantages (USAs) that all good companies possess. Start by listing a series of facts about the organization: its origin, staff, and the products and services. The objective here is to distill these facts down through multiple steps to uncover the handful of USAs.
Now if you were to stop there, you would be like all of the other ineffective mainstream advertisers out there. You need to take it to the next level and uncover the Unique Buying Advantages (UBAs) as well.
UBAs tell us what’s most important to the customers from their viewpoint; it’s the customer’s perspective about the company or the products or services offered. UBAs include what the customer cares about the most, and the factors that motivate them to buy a product from one company over another.
USAs and UBAs are often very different because companies are not cued into what a customer wants or how a customer feels; they must understand what truly motivates customers buying power. A company must be conscious of why a customer is purchasing a product or service and the benefits they reap from the purchase.
Take the pulse of the company. The company far exceeds the executive team and is more than just the inclination of the CEO. Have someone from customer service, sales, someone from the warehouse if you have one; get a good cross section of employees who interact with customers. This is a formative process in which you begin with a broader view of the company and drill down to what the company feels is the list of selling advantages. Do not make the mistake that many organizations make by relying on the CEO and executives perspective only.
What do your customers want?
How do you find out what motivates your customers? You have to ask them. There is absolutely no way around not doing your homework, your research on your customers. It is essential that you obtain primary research and not rely solely on second hand information. Be brave enough to approach your former customers to find out how you failed them; what made them seek out another company? Utilize fundamental marketing research techniques to get to the root of what motivates and drives the customer, and what they are looking for in their lives that your product does or might be able to facilitate. From there you must compare what you think you want your product to communicate with what is meaningful to your customers and bridge the gap to create optimal results. Get through the noise and into the minds of your customers.
Taking the time to complete thorough research and identify with your customers will give you a far more competitive edge. Traditional marketing and advertising usually stops at the USAs. Very rarely do you see someone statistically and strategically stopping to question and compare every message. The best way to know that your USAs and UBAs are holding true is when your company is mentioned, your target customers can say, ‘that company knows me and what I want.’ This gives you the initial power to stand out from the competition, strike a nerve and impact your customers in a very meaningful and emotional way so that your product becomes desired and bought.
Yes the research is trench work, but it’s necessary work in order to determine the USAs and the UBAs; it’s where the power is. That is indeed what will form and shape your creative messaging because after all that’s what your customer wants. Rather than pander up to your own ego, why don’t you pander up to your customers needs? Identifying the USAs and UBAs will enable a company to get to the “Big Idea,” and that will catapult your company forward.
MALCOLM TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain a new direction, increase revenue, and the expertise to facilitate your customers UBAs, call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.