Guest Post, Mike Smith of WordSmith Creative
So much of business today revolves around service. In many industries, it’s what enables one business to distinguish itself from its competitors because often the products (at least in the eyes of the consumer) aren’t all that different. It’s one of the things that is supposed to enable the “little guy” to compete with the big box stores.
Business people understand this and they try to have their marketing people hammer this home all the time. The unfortunate thing is that many businesses miss a very important business truth.
Service is not what you say it is. It’s what your customers say it is.
Here’s an example of what I mean. I went through the drive-in window at my bank recently to make a deposit. At the end of my transaction the teller passed me the card of the bank’s “business expert” and urged me to contact her because “she would be able to offer me some services that would really benefit my business.” This same scenario plays out about every third time I go to the drive-though.
Here’s the problem. None of the services that they offer me are things that will benefit my business. I’m not looking for a business line of credit. I’m not interested in a small-business loan. I don’t want another credit card or debit card for my business. These things offer me no benefit whatsoever. That’s not service—it’s trying to sell me something I don’t want or need.
Part of the issue is that I don’t really trust my bank to have my best interests at heart. I’ve seen how they made hundreds of dollars in service charges off my kids when they were younger and trying to figure out how to manage their finances. That didn’t strike me as a service-oriented approach. It was self-serving. Real service is giving your customers something that helps them accomplish their goals—not yours.
What’s this got to do with marketing? Is it wrong to talk about service when you talk about your business? Not at all! If you’re going to talk about it, however, make sure you’re offering something that will really serve your customers—not just something that you hope will generate a new revenue stream. It’s OK to extol your emphasis on service as long as you back up your claims—and put your money where your mouth is.
I’ve given you an example of an offering of service that didn’t really serve. Anybody have an example of service that really met you at your point of need?