Intro by Skip Cohen

Most of the posts I share from Shep Hyken are from his older archives, but this recent post really hit home.

So many of you spend time following the competition. Unfortunately, in the process, you’ve forgotten about your own customers.

When I was a kid, we did a family trip, driving across the US to California. I remember my Dad being excited over a “Gas War” between a dozen gas stations along the route somewhere out west. The gas just kept getting cheaper and cheaper as a group of competitors fought for control of the business through the price/gallon.

Too many of you are building your business, trying to “one-up” your competitors on pricing and promotional packages. You’ve turned imaging into a commodity business. You’ve lost the most important ingredient to beat the competition in the process – GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE!

Success in business today is about building relationships. It’s about keeping your promises and building a brand based on quality – not just in the finished product but in communication and presentation. Focus on exceeding customer expectations. Keep an eye on your competitors but stay focused on your customers.

You know how to hold focus with your camera. So, let’s hold focus on excellent service and everything you can do to raise the bar on the experience you offer your target audience.

We should never let up in our continuous efforts to improve our customer experience. Our customers, not our competition, are the reason customer service is important to you. Shep Hyken

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When a client is interested in engaging me to speak at their meeting, I’ll usually ask in our initial call, “Why is hiring a customer service speaker important to you at this time?”    

We get many different answers that include low customer satisfaction, ratings are slipping, we are great and want to stay great, and our competition is always trying to catch up to us, and we need to stay ahead. Of course, there are other answers, but for today I want to focus on the last one, which is about the competition catching up.   

First, if we’re worried about the competition catching up to or surpassing us, it indicates we think we’re already better than the competition. Let’s assume we really are, and if that is true, congratulations. You are envied by your peers – and your competition. You also have a “target on your back” that the competition is aiming at. They want more business, which means they want your customers. Yet as important as that might be, maybe the focus shouldn’t be on them but turned back to you and your customers.

I want you to play offense

Of course, we should always keep an eye on our competitors. We should know everything we can about them. That’s standard business intel protocol. And if you make changes based on what the competition is doing, you are playing defense, which at times, you may have to do. But I want you to play offense. 

Start by looking at what you’re doing that has kept you ahead of your competition. It’s essential to understand this. It’s the value you bring to your customers. It may be what differentiates you. And be smart, if not humble enough, to realize what got you to where you are today may not be strong enough for tomorrow. Ask yourself the question, “Is the customer service and experience we provide good enough to get the customer to come back the next time they need what we sell?” 

You can’t answer this by yourself. You need help from your customers. Find out what they are saying about you. Do regular surveys. Look at your customer satisfaction ratings. Examine your sales numbers. Look at your churn. If you’re losing ground in any of these areas, your customers may have the answers you need to reverse the trend. These are the reasons why delivering the right customer service, and customer experience is important to you and your organization.  

While we should always keep an eye on our competition, don’t let it distract you from what you have always done. And always be looking to make it better. We should never let up in our continuous efforts to improve our customer experience. Our customers, not our competition, are the reason customer service is important to you. 

Copyright © MMXXII, Shep Hyken – Used with Permission

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