|This post was originally published on OPEN Forum.|
In this economy, it’s not good enough to simply meet expectations. Businesses need to be exceptional to stand out.
The key to dominating any industry is knowing exactly who your customer is, says Lior Arussy in his book, Exceptionalize It! As the founder of customer research firm Strativity Group, Arussy has worked with Mercedes-Benz, Capital One, FedEx and other industry leaders.
In his book, Arussy shares three key tips for building exceptional products and services that can hook the right customers and knock out the competition.
1. Get rid of the “wrong” customers. Arussy says there’s no point in doing business with the wrong customers, because you may lose the right ones in the process.
How do you know which ones are the wrong customers? First, pay attention to their expectations. Does your business satisfy their needs? If their expectations far exceed what you can do for them, and right now you don’t have the resources to meet the level of value they’re expecting every time, maybe it’s better for them to be customers at a different company.
If they’re looking for a different organization entirely, you may lose a lot of the right customers by changing your business model to satisfy the needs of the wrong ones.
Second, you need to research your customers. A few years ago, Sprint sent letters to a number of its customers and advised them to find new phone carriers because Sprint no longer wanted their business. It turned out, the company decided to send these letters to people who called the call center 50 to 100 times on a monthly basis.
“At that point, it’s not that something is wrong with your product, but rather, those are abusive customers,” Arussy says. “They are taking resources away from the customers who are actually profitable.”
2. Avoid discounts. When customers ask for discounts, they’re saying that they don’t see the connection between the price and the product you’re selling. Arussy says that when you agree to give them a discount, you’re admitting that you and your product aren’t as great as what you originally claimed. “What’s the point of setting a price if you’re not going to stick to it?”
Instead, you should lower the value, but not the actual price of your service or product. For example, if you usually sell 100 items in a package, create packages of 50 items and sell them for half price. Don’t sell your original packages of 100 items for half price. “Just make sure the value is correlating to what they’re willing to pay,” he advises.
3. Offer your customers something your competition can’t. The most important thing you need to understand about your competition is how desperate they are, Arussy says. “People do a lot of stupid things when they’re desperate and if you can understand their level of confidence, you can exploit their weaknesses.”
Figure out exactly why your competition is desperate and make sure whatever area they’re lacking in is the area your business is exceptional at. For example, if they are lacking in customer service, deliver an authentic and personalized experience to your own customers. If you’re a smaller company, send your customers birthday cards and personalized letters. This will differentiate you from other companies offering similar services and products.
“People today gravitate toward the emotional side of things,” Arussy says, “so be authentic and stop trying to be like your big competitors.”
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