Let’s talk now about another way that you can differentiate and stand apart from the competition — service. You may have heard a lot about service as a differentiator and it absolutely can be a differentiator. So let’s talk about that and go a little bit deeper.
So, you have two sides of the spectrum. You have high service brands and low service brands. Let’s talk about the low service brands first.
Your low service brands, or no service brands, could be your IKEA’s of the world. You know that Swedish furniture company. It’s basically a huge warehouse. You walk in and everything is just self-serve. You walk in, you look at things, you pick what you want, you write it down on a piece of paper. It tells you which aisle and row to go to. You have to go find it.
They also have a self-checkout counter so you could checkout yourself, then you take it home, and guess what? You have to put it together. So talk about low or no service. They’ve got a pretty smart business model. Warehouse, but you do everything. That is the extreme: low service, no service.
You even find some examples around restaurants and food where you go and you kind of pick your own food. It’s pre-made but you pick it, and put it on a tray. Then you checkout and sit down to eat. There’s no server nor waiter. I’ve been to some places where you actually make your own meal. How’s that for a business model?
You can also go to restaurants where you actually place your order on an iPad. Or you fill out a little piece of paper and just tick some boxes then present that piece of paper to the cashier or the server. That is low service or no service. And you would expect the prices would also be cheap. So service and price, they go hand in hand. We’re just going deeper here around service.
You can see a lot of those brands operate around the low service, no service. So you can position yourself as a sales professional and a company with your clients by saying “Because we are low service or self-service, you can log in yourself and maintain your account on your own which keeps the costs down.” Such a great way to position yourself in your company.
Now on the opposite side of the spectrum are those high service, high quality brands. High service with lots of personal touch. Again, when you walk in to a luxury brand …
I’ve been into some retailers where you walk in, and the first thing they do is they greet you with a cup of espresso. How nice is that? Or, on one occasion, I went in and the first thing they did was popped open a bottle of bubbly. Veuve Clicquot, one of my favorite sparkling wines or champagnes. It was awesome and great. Now, small investment on their part in exchange for what I ended up buying in the store.
But what they’re doing is that they’re creating an environment. They’re creating a brand experience that says “We treat you well. We will take care of you. We will serve you. We will treat you like the discerning high-class customer you want to be.” It’s very aspirational.
And, again, they don’t do that hoping you’ll just buy a pair of socks. But even if you did, their socks would be about $100 so it’s okay, right?
At the end of the day, you want to look at what type of service do we provide. What level of service do we provide? What quality of service do we provide? Make sure that your pricing is in accordance with that. But more importantly, you need to manage the expectations of your customer.
For some of you that are playing on the low price angle; the low service. If you find yourself getting customers that are pushing back wanting more and more specialised service, you just respond with a smile and say “We’re happy to help you. Here’s another plan or package that you might find more useful for you.” And you up-sell them and upgrade them to that plan.
But really, at the end of the day, you need to pick a side. Are we low or no service, or are we high tailored personalised service? Whichever side you play on, make sure you stick to that and you share that, live that and breathe that with your customers. That is another way that you can differentiate from your competition.