If I were to reorganize the order of this list, it would go something like this:
1. Do what you love.
2. Know your competitive advantage.
3. Develop partnerships with trusted, reliable suppliers
4. Know your customers by name.
5. Provide personalized service.
The first two are the most difficult to settle, and perhaps, why a lot of people don’t go into business for themselves. If you don’t first know what you love, or what sort of competitive advantage you could bring to the marketplace; you can’t possibly form partnerships with the right suppliers, or know any of your customers by name, much less give personalized service to them. However, having successfully discovered the first two, the last three are much more easily achieved.
This is one of the ways that coaching is helpful in the beginning stages of deciding which venture to pursue. The guidance a coach may offer is support, encouragement and accountability in doing the self-exploration necessary for these early stages.
Technology and social media developments may have changed the way businesses communicate but certain “old-fashioned” customer service fundamentals will never go out of style.
Many 40-and-older entrepreneurs understand this because they’ve been customers themselves for a long time. Take Paul Wheston of Reading, England. For years, he worked as an agent selling other people’s fish. Now, the 47-year-old owns Fish Glorious Fish, a fishmonger service that he opened earlier this year.
GetReading wrote this profile piece about Paul. His Golden Rule approach to customer service is one that can be implemented by other business owners who follow these steps:
1. Know your customers by name. Dale Carnegie said it best in How to Win Friends and Influence People. A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
2. Provide personalized service. Paul knows most of his customers likes and dislikes. Some prefer to stick to a regular weekly order; others like to experiment. People appreciate it when you go out of your way to give them what they want.
3. Develop partnerships with trusted, reliable suppliers. Without them, you can’t be sure of the quality of your products and/or may have nothing to sell. “I pretty much know where the fish were caught, when they were caught and in some cases I might even know the name of the fisherman who caught them,” said Paul.
4. Know your competitive advantage. In Paul’s case, it’s super freshness. He puts his fish on sale the day after it’s caught – something that supermarkets can’t do.
5. Do what you love. When you enjoy your business and believe in your product, it shows. Your customers can sense it when they walk through the door.
Have any customer service methods that have worked especially well for your business? Please feel free to share them below.