The Competitive Advantage

tag: customer experience

May 7, 2013

Better, faster, cheaper… is it possible to deliver all 3 for a competitive advantage?

Creating strong client relationships is built on a 3-legged stool…wine

  • Excellent service
  • Low prices
  • Great products/services

And the presumption has always been… you can deliver on two… but never on all three.  E.g. You can be fast and cheap – but the quality won’t be so great.  Or, you can turn it around quickly with great products – but it’ll cost you.

I have always believed this to be true – not just in MR but in every industry – until I went wine shopping with a friend of mine at Beltway Fine Wine & Spirits, just outside of Baltimore, Maryland.

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April 10, 2013

Ask the MAGIC QUESTION to gain a competitive advantage

magician2I’m writing this blog post from a coffeeshop about an hour from home while my wife & I are living with my in-laws for a few days.  Our new hardwood floors are being finished and we needed to be out of the house.

But it wasn’t by design.  The floors were actually finished a week ago… but then got scuffed up by the painters dragging their ladder across the floor to do their job.  Was the scuffing bad?  Not really… but enough that it bothered us.

We called the general contractor to express our displeasure.  Some people in his position would have argued, said the scuffs were to be expected, blamed it on others, etc.  Not our contractor.  His question was simple and straightforward, “What do I need to do to make you happy?”

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February 13, 2013

You only get One Chance to make a First Impression

My wife, Lisa, and I are doing some updating to our home – knocking out a wall, putting in hardwood floors and the like.  And Lisa is the one in charge of the project.

During this process, she’s called numerous contractors to come to the house, look around and provide an estimate on doing the work. Her interaction with them has been really interesting… with some of the contractors not responding at all to her initial calls and others not submitting bids after visiting our home.

That’s nuts!  You’d think that these small, local businesses would jump at the chance to participate in a project like this.

Here’s what their lack of responsiveness has done… they’re off of our list!  Period.  We just won’t do business with them… even if they come back later with an apology and a lower bid.  Our feeling is that if they can’t be any more responsive when they’re trying to impress us to close the deal, what is it going to be like if we actually hire them?

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January 15, 2013

Where’s the #$@&^!* phone number?

guy-screaming-on-phoneIn preparing to send my son to London for his semester abroad last week, we had a few questions to ask Delta Airlines about luggage restrictions on international flights.  Now, I’m sure that I could have found the answer to our questions in some FAQ section on their website… but I actually prefer talking to someone.

So, we went to the Delta website to find a phone number to call.  And we couldn’t.  We looked high and low, but with no luck… and what numbers they did show had nothing to do with us.  I then went to the old-school yellow pages and called the local Delta number… but it was disconnected.  At this point, I was screaming at the phone.  My son finally found a number buried several clicks deep in their website but we had to leave a message.  Thankfully, Delta called back about 20 minutes later.

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January 8, 2013

Under-promise and over-deliver for a competitive advantage

guardsMy son, Alex, a college sophomore, leaves this week for a semester abroad in London – 8 weeks of classes followed by 8 weeks of an internship (which will then be followed by a couple weeks with a backpack!).  What a great opportunity!

Over coffee last weekend, I tried to give him a little “fatherly” advice – particularly about his internship.  I counseled him to:

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December 18, 2012

Getting rather than giving gifts for the holidays?

presentMany firms give gifts to their clients at this time of year as a “thank you for your business” gesture.  I do, too, in fact.

But how many of you receive gifts from your clients?

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December 11, 2012

It really is all about the customer ‘experience’: A 10-point checklist for providing memorable service.

Twice in the last two months, I have had really lousy experiences at retail specialty stores.  Yeah, I know you’re not a retailer… but bear with me – the same ideas (and ideals) apply.

I went into these stores with every intention of buying (one was a bike shop, the other a computer store – so they were pretty good-sized purchases).  In both instances, I literally stood in the aisle near the products that interested me for 15 minutes waiting for some help to be able to ask some questions and make my purchasing decisions.  In both cases, it was the middle of a weekday and there were store employees just walking or standing around, not busy and simply ignoring me.

I left both stores frustrated and took my business elsewhere.

But those experiences got me to thinking about our industry… are we being proactive and responsive to our clients so they don’t “walk way” frustrated? To help you review your client interaction processes, here’s a 10-point checklist that can help:

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October 10, 2012

Are you out of touch with your clients? It’s not too late to reconnect.

I ran into a friend of mine on Saturday at the local coffee shop (the real social networking site!)… he works for an international manufacturer of equipment for the healthcare industry.

We were talking about the bureaucracy of working for such a large firm and how their marketing department is actually divided into two groups: strategic marketing and operational marketing.  He then made an interesting comment. He said that the marketers, while being really smart people, have no real idea what’s going on “in the field” because they rarely talk to their sales team and never talk to clients.

I was shocked!  How can you build an organization to serve customers if you don’t know what customers want… because you never talk to them?

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