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    May 12th, 2011

    ♫ We have the right combination, we got everything.
    And to strike faster than lightning, we raise what we bring.
    We have the right combination,
    ..
    Give it all! Give it all! Give it all! Give it all!
    Do it! Do it! All right! ♫

    Lyrics, music and recorded by The Go! Team.

    Handshake image

    This is another guest post by Drago Adam (drago@AdamAdGroup.com).  This one really struck a nerve with me since lawyers have to try to define value by delivering the intangible.  This post on how to make your strategic differentiation real has particular meaning for lawyers as they try to distinguish their services from the law firm down the street  - or over the Internet. So here is Drago’s advice:

    This week after interviewing some new clients we were struck by how many businesses seem to think their customer service is their differentiator. What’s worse is that they want to tell everyone to do business with them because of their customer service. What businesses fail to realize is that their messages sound like blah, blah, blah to the marketplace. The following message from author John Warrillow will help show us how not to fall victim to this mundane marketing strategy.

    Lacking the courage or creativity to come up with something unique, a lot of businesses claim they offer “great customer service” as a point of differentiation. Well, it’s not.

    How many times have you seen some variation of the following statements on the side of a truck or on the logo-bearing trinkets businesses give away:

    • “We put our customers first.”
    • “It’s our service that makes us special.”
    • “Where customers come first.”
    • “Specializing in great customer service.”

    These kinds of statements are so overused, they are the marketing equivalent of wallpaper — designed to be ignored. Everybody claims to serve customers well, yet few companies actually do. So not only do you have an undifferentiated point of differentiation, but nobody believes you.

    Great service is defined by the served, not the server. Two people may experience the same service, and one will walk away enthralled, and the other underwhelmed.

    One person’s pushy is another person’s attentive. One person’s responsive is another person’s aggressive.

    In fact, the company is the only entity that should never claim to offer great customer service. Like a 15-year-old boy who tries to get a nickname to catch on so his classmates think him cool, it works only if others bestow the label on you. The moment you claim it yourself, you come off sounding desperate — or just boring.

    Here’s a better approach to marketing:

    Find something that meets two criteria: (1) it makes you unique, and (2) customers care about it.

    It’s true that customers care about the service they get, but because everyone claims great service and there is no universal agreement on what it looks like, it’s not differentiating. To find a point of differentiation, you need to go a level deeper. Ask yourself what you do in tangible, concrete terms that makes your service better than your competitors’. For example:

    • Enterprise Rent-A-Car does not claim to provide “great customer service;” it offers to “come and pick you up,” which is a concrete and tangible way it differentiates its service level from that of Hertz.
    • • Zappos doesn’t shriek about “great customer service;” instead, it has a two-way return policy. Most online retailers offer one-way free shipping, but very few offer two-way free shipping. Zappos spends its time and money proving it offers great service, not claiming it.
    • • TD Bank doesn’t breathlessly proclaim its great customer service; instead, it advertises that its branches are open late and on Saturdays, which, in Canada, where a banking oligopoly means competitors still keep bankers’ hours, is differentiating.

    •In a crowded hyper-competitive market, it may be something very small and subtle that makes you unique. That’s OK, as long as it is truly yours and customers care. For example, if you ask a staff member at a Ritz-Carlton Hotel for directions, he will not point toward your destination; he will accompany you there. Guests, — often late and lost in a new city,— tell friends about the Ritz because of the experience they receive, not because the hotel talks about great service.

    Stop saying you offer great customer service. It’s not doing you any favors. Figure out what it is about your service — in concrete, tangible terms — that customers value and start talking about that.

    If you need help figuring it out, give us a call. We’re pretty good at it!

    Have a great week unless you choose otherwise. Drago (604 937 – 8886 or 866 923 – 6477). If you would like to receive Drago’s newsletters, drop him an email at: drago@AdamAdGroup.com.

    Thanks Drago for some great advice about finding the right combination in your marketing message that makes you distinct!

    This entry was posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 12:41 pm and is filed under Adding Value, Business Development, Issues facing Law Firms, Leadership and Strategic Planning, Tips, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    One Response to “Customer Service Is Not a Marketing Strategy”
    1. What Is It About Your Service That Clients Value? | Says:

      [...] To read more, go here: http://thoughtfullaw.com/2011/05/12/customer-service-is-not-a-marketing-strategy/#more-1514    [...]

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