One of my favorite topics to discuss is the concept of convenience and how it can provide a competitive edge for your business. I even wrote an entire book on this subject called The Convenience Revolution: How to Deliver a Customer Service Experience that Disrupts the Competition and Creates Fierce Loyalty. Customers love convenience — that’s a fact. I thought it appropriate to share some thoughts on how being easy — or convenient — can give you an advantage over your competition.
When your customers can buy what you sell from others, that’s called competition. That also makes it a commodity. If the store down the street sells the same thing you do, why should customers buy from you instead of them? Is it the price of your product? Is it your quality? Is it your customer service?
Customers are smarter than ever before. They now expect to receive a positive customer service experience — providing that is no longer an option. And your customers want your product to meet — and exceed — their expectations, so let’s assume that it does. In short, everyone is striving to create a good experience at every level. That means, in most situations, your competition is trying to match and even outmatch you. What happens when you and your competitor are similar in price, quality and service? How do you stand out?
The answer is simple: convenience. Add that layer to your customer experience and you can easily steal business from your competitors. In other words, be easier to do business with — no friction and no hassle. That brings us to this very important point:
When great customer service meets convenience, you have the recipe for disruption.
I remember speaking with the manager of the service and repair center at a major brand automotive dealership about this very issue. He was losing customers to an independent repair center and struggling to find ways to keep his customers loyal, even with promotions and sales. His dealership’s hours of operation were Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm. On the other hand, his competitor was open not only Monday through Friday from 7:30 am until 9:00 pm, but also offered hours on Saturday and Sunday. It was therefore no surprise that the independent repair center is always busy — they were the more convenient option.
I’m not suggesting that all businesses need to be open in the evenings and seven days a week. However, to be truly convenient, you must consider hours of operation that are convenient for your customers rather than your business.
Let me share with you another example. Within two miles of my home are three big-box home improvement stores. A little further down the street is a much smaller independent hardware store. You might think the big-box stores would put the independent store out of business because of their lower prices and bigger selection, but that isn’t the case. Customers actually prefer the smaller store because “they are easier to do business with.” What they mean is that the smaller store is easier to navigate, there’s less traffic in the parking lot and, most importantly, the customer service is more individualized. This all adds up to a more convenient experience, which the competitors don’t offer. That’s the reason this small, independent hardware store stays in business.
The point is this. If your company is easier to do business with than the competition — if you provide a convenient experience, and the customer knows it, you will disrupt your competition and create fiercely loyal customers. In short, you will win.
About the Author
Shep Hyken, customer service and experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations, is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author and inductee of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. His articles span hundreds of publications, and he is the author of Moments of Magic®, The Loyal Customer, The Cult of the Customer, The Amazement Revolution, Amaze Every Customer Every Time, and The Convenience Revolution. He is also the creator of The Customer Focus™, a customer service training program which helps clients develop a customer service culture and loyalty mindset.
Follow Shep @Hyken
This article is an excerpt from our new eBook Build a Better Customer Experience.