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How To Differentiate Your Service Organization

Hint, it’s the simple things.

By Chris Gregory - HLB Director Marketing and Business Development

Product differentiation is a frequent topic in our office. As a product development consultancy we are always searching for ways to elevate our clients’ products above the clutter. Focus on this issue often revolves around design, materials, technologies, and methods to help drive increased user satisfaction while decreasing costs. However, things take on a different hue when transitioning our vision inwardly in attempting to practice what we preach.

Our firm has wonderfully talented designers and engineers that have ushered hundreds of pioneering, successful products from concept to the marketplace. Of course, I believe our people are the best. However, many other firms claim similar offerings. So, how does one get the message across that their firm is in fact the best choice? The most important and basic aspect of being a firm that provides a service is to actually provide superior service. While important, the most crafty messaging does not always appropriately depict a truly service focused organization. Rather, superior service is most often proven by paying attention to the simple things.

Return calls, e-mails, LinkedIn InMail, etc.
Yep, this one again. This is the easiest thing to do yet I am routinely surprised by how often people do not carry out this simplest of tasks in a timely fashion. How often have you heard someone or yourself say, “I never got a call back.”? The hardest part is done. Your marketing efforts were effective in generating enough interest to provoke a prospect to reach out and make your phone ring. Don’t blow it by waiting to respond or not responding to a client’s call. If you are unable to answer a simple phone call (e-mail, LinkedIn InMail, etc.), how should the prospect expect you to deliver on something far more complicated? The communicated perception is not very positive.

Do what you say
If you say you are going to provide follow-up information within a specific timeframe, do it and do it on time. Even if unable to obtain an answer within the promised timeframe, let the client know that you are working on a solution rather than let the deadline lapse in silence. Yes, the requested information is important to the client. A timely response, even if only providing updates on the path to an answer, is what provides the greatest insight into your desire and ability to include the client in the conversation and address their needs. Most importantly, your consistent attention and eagerness to help provides a window into your organization’s character as a whole. Nothing erodes credibility faster than not following through on your word.

Address conflict now not later
Dragging your feet when dealing with conflict enables a prospect’s or client’s imagination to run free enabling even the smallest of issues to needlessly evolve into something much greater. Most importantly, procrastination leads the client to believe that his or her needs are not important to you. Now you really do have an issue on your hands. Often you’ll find that the conflict is perceived or caused by outside or unrated influences and can be remedied through lending an ear and a friendly conversation. In situations where the conflict is real, step-up, collaboratively work on a solution, and when required admit fault. An honest approach will, more often than not, lower defenses and facilitate mutually beneficial solutions. Addressing conflict head on builds trust and often results in a stronger bond than existed prior to the conflict.

Try on their shoes
Gaining a personal understanding of a client’s situation provides greater understanding of their needs. Asking a lot of questions and being empathetic empowers you to share in their experience and communicate at a common level, both of which facilitates sincerity and collaboration conducive to problem solving. Don’t fake it. Canned, robotic, or automated questions and responses are easily identified as superficial and do not illicit a sense of interest, trust, or credibility. Furthermore, when directly interacting with clients and users you are getting a first-hand account of where market trends are headed. You should appreciate the information and be excited to have the opportunity to gain such valuable insight that will organically develop a strong relationship with the client while facilitating future growth of your organization.

Crafting messaging, developing visually appealing collateral, ensuring web pages provide a meaningful user experience, and structuring clever initiatives are all critical elements in communicating an organization’s worth to its audience. All of these things take a great deal of time and thought to sculpt and execute. However, the simple things are the details that truly provide the greatest impact. Paying attention to the simple things will ensure all of your other hard work doesn’t go to waste. The simple things allow you to differentiate your organization by proving your respect, dedication, and desire to solving your clients’ needs which leads to trust.