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Is customer service a good competitive advantage

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So with my idea I realized ALOT of people have been complaining about the crap customer services with other companies and I wanted to provide better customer service than anyone else. Do you think this is a good enough idea to keep me in the game?

I remember watching MJ DeMarco's video on YouTube. He was talking about how things could be slightly different; and one thing he mentioned was customer service. I realized a lot of websites and their competitors aren't really that much different. Is it really vital that you have to have something COMPLETELY different that your competition doesn't? I don't know how true that is, like coffee shops for instance. You will find HEAPS of coffee shops and they all aren't really that different.
 

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ManlyMansNegator

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Whats your idea?

As a customer i like when i am treated well.I will come back to a store that treats me well, if a store treats me badly i wont go back to them.If a store treats me neutral i will regard the store as neutral in my choices.
 

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How will you provide better customer service?

If it's a website then next day delivery, quibble free refunds and free returns are not going to make you stand out from the pack as this is becoming the norm. People just expect that these days and will hardly give you a thank you, let alone sing your praises for all to hear.

If it's a people to people service where you can really go the extra mile (rather than an automated service which is totally impersonal) then I think better customer service can make a huge difference - IF you go bananas on the "better". If you go 200% above your competitors.

However a customer service focus can take time to get your brand to stand out. For people to start talking about you enough to make a difference to your business. Compare that to a much better product than your competitors offer. That will get you noticed a lot quicker.

When I opened a pizzeria years ago we were flooded with new customers. One reason was the 'new' factor but what really drove it from day 1 was the fact we provided the best pizza in town by a factor of 4.

In fact the week we opened our main competitor closed down as he just didn't want to compete.

I haven't had that business for a decade but I still bump into people in the street that say 'man I miss your pizzas'.
 
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How will you provide better customer service?

If it's a website then next day delivery, quibble free refunds and free returns are not going to make you stand out from the pack as this is becoming the norm. People just expect that these days and will hardly give you a thank you, let alone sing your praises for all to hear.

If it's a people to people service where you can really go the extra mile (rather than an automated service which is totally impersonal) then I think better customer service can make a huge difference - IF you go bananas on the "better". If you go 200% above your competitors.

However a customer service focus can take time to get your brand to stand out. For people to start talking about you enough to make a difference to your business. Compare that to a much better product than your competitors offer. That will get you noticed a lot quicker.

When I opened a pizzeria years ago we were flooded with new customers. One reason was the 'new' factor but what really drove it from day 1 was the fact we provided the best pizza in town by a factor of 4.

In fact the week we opened our main competitor closed down as he just didn't want to compete.

I haven't had that business for a decade but I still bump into people in the street that say 'man I miss your pizzas'.
Well the problem that people had was things like people having their accounts suspended, accounts paused, customer service representatives speaking like robots, Not investigating the disputes properly,
 

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Well the problem that people had was things like people having their accounts suspended, accounts paused, customer service representatives speaking like robots, Not investigating the disputes properly,
Apart from the customer service rep comment that's the sort of problems that happen with a lot of larger companies but is generally a very small percentage of the total customer base.

In my experience it is only when that small percentage gets to a critical mass that people will start looking elsewhere in any numbers.

"A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience". -White House Office of Consumer Affairs (US based but fairly accurate outside the US I would say)

Dissatisfied customers are always more vocal than satisfied ones. You need to ask yourself if this could be skewing your data? If I haven't had a bad experience myself I will stay put as doing nothing is preferable to the hassle of changing just for the sake of change.

When having regular dealings with a company (B2B) I would say the most important aspect of retaining my business is my direct relationships. My sales rep, my account manager, my delivery driver etc.. I am happy to pay more for a good reliable service as long as it is not a lot more. But the existing company would have to have burned their bridges pretty badly before I would jump ship.

It is much more likely the customer will stay with their existing company than switch to another.

However if the service is poor across the board and affecting a lot of people then there might be some mileage in it. I think it depends on the percentage of disgruntled customers and the business niche.

If you want to chat privately hit me up. (I'm in the UK and have my own gig so your niche is safe from me).

-
 
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The way customer service affects you is greatly dependent on your needs/availability of that company.

Say you have only the option of 2 cable providers in your area, and you know you are with the company that offers the better packages for the better prices. Even if they have the worst customer service on the planet, you are most likely to stay with them. Say you need to make a few thousand flyers for your company. There are hundreds of print houses in town, and it would be extremely easy to simply move on to another company.

My point? One thing I have noticed is some corporations that know you have few to no options will barely bother to improve their customer service. And then these corporations end up hiring off-shore companies who only know how to read off a script with an accent barely understandable which compounds the issue.

Smaller private companies with bad customer service simply don't know better. They just fail to understand the importance of getting on a personal level with their customers.
 

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You have to remember that most bad customer service is created by the customers themselves.

The easiest way to avoid disgruntled customers is to raise prices. Higher prices filter out the most vocal and entitled types -- it's a well known counter-intuitive fact of business that the more people pay the less they complain, and the less they pay the more they complain. Free software is a great example of this extreme. Houses might be a good example of the other extreme.

This in turn damages the viability of the business by effectively paying for bad results: the loss of profits from lower prices, the negative advertising of the whiners, and the draining customer service costs dealing with these types.

Higher prices also allow you to budget more for customer service. People complain when they end up talking to someone in an Indian call center, but those same people would complain louder if prices were raised to use a local call center. So it's better to give them nothing by pricing them out -- until you become so big and your economies of scale are so high that they're a monetizable market.

Higher prices also allow you to deliver higher quality products and services, which in turn need less customer service.
 

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As others have stated having good customer service can help. I personally believe it is a strong reason my businesses have done so well. We respond to emails in minutes and have a real phone number where customers can talk to real people from 9-5 every day.

All that to say it helps... but ultimately need always triumphs.

I was buying some new inventory from a supplier. That supplier sent our inventory to the right address but didn’t put my warehouse unit number. I spent probably 2 hours fixing a mess that supplier caused so I could get my items. When I needed that item again do you know what I did? I ordered from that same supplier again.

Ultimately my need of getting the items the supplier had at the price the supplier had them at trumped my need for good customer service.
 

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I will definitely pay more/continue to pay more for great customer service.

Zappos (shoes) and Warbly Parker (glasses) are examples of companies that were BUILT on customer service.

... but you can't JUST have better customer service. Everything else has to be at the same level or better. You can sure take market share from someone who treats their customers like shit... unless you suck at what you do.
 
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I will definitely pay more/continue to pay more for great customer service.

Zappos (shoes) and Warbly Parker (glasses) are examples of companies that were BUILT on customer service.

... but you can't JUST have better customer service. Everything else has to be at the same level or better. You can sure take market share from someone who treats their customers like sh*t... unless you suck at what you do.
Hey Kung fu, I have a question. You said, "you can't JUST have better customer service. Everything else has to be at the same level or better.". If you are getting started would it make sense to build it at the same level as your competitors? That would cost a shit ton of money, would it make more sense to just have the core features then later implement changes based on customers feedback?
 

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Hey Kung fu, I have a question. You said, "you can't JUST have better customer service. Everything else has to be at the same level or better.". If you are getting started would it make sense to build it at the same level as your competitors? That would cost a sh*t ton of money, would it make more sense to just have the core features then later implement changes based on customers feedback?
You, my friend, based on all of your other posts are just way overthinking this :smile2:

Go out, sell your stuff, and treat people well.

Go the extra mile for them. Make them happy. You're just getting this thing going so don't say no to anything. Beg, borrow, and steal to get those first few customers.

Guerilla warfare is your game right now!
 

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You, my friend, based on all of your other posts are just way overthinking this :smile2:

Go out, sell your stuff, and treat people well.

Go the extra mile for them. Make them happy. You're just getting this thing going so don't say no to anything. Beg, borrow, and steal to get those first few customers.

Guerilla warfare is your game right now!
Lol, I'm just trying to be certain. But what is your answer to my question just curious?
 

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It is and it isn't.

Saying you have better customer service in your FBA store than everyone else is completely trivial whether you actually do or if you're wrong. Few notice.

On the other side of this coin is a man that goes by the name Mattress Mac, Jim Macinvale. The centa-millionaire owner of Houston's Gallery Furniture. Damn near everyone that has been there 2-3 times has gotten the chance to meet him.

The man embodies the phrase customer service. It is his differentiation and it has served him well.

Have you stayed at a Ritz Carlton? Have you stayed at a Hyatt? The Hyatt is usually a very nice hotel, but it is NOT a Ritz. The biggest difference isn't the facility.
 
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It is and it isn't.

Saying you have better customer service in your FBA store than everyone else is completely trivial whether you actually do or if you're wrong. Few notice.

On the other side of this coin is a man that goes by the name Mattress Mac, Jim Macinvale. The centa-millionaire owner of Houston's Gallery Furniture. Damn near everyone that has been there 2-3 times has gotten the chance to meet him.

The man embodies the phrase customer service. It is his differentiation and it has served him well.

Have you stayed at a Ritz Carlton? Have you stayed at a Hyatt? The Hyatt is usually a very nice hotel, but it is NOT a Ritz. The biggest difference isn't the facility.
I see. It defintently wouldn't be the only thing but it would be a part of it. Correct me if I'm wrong but customer service is easy? I see things that other platforms make and it seems like really basic stuff. I know it can get complex when there are certain disputes.
 

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Lol, I'm just trying to be certain. But what is your answer to my question just curious?
You'll never find certainty being an entrepreneur.

But to answer on a basic level, if they have a better product, service, price, offer, and half way decent customer service... and you have a worse product, service, offer but better customer service... you're going to lose.
 
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You'll never find certainty being an entrepreneur.

But to answer on a basic level, if they have a better product, service, price, offer, and half way decent customer service... and you have a worse product, service, offer but better customer service... you're going to lose.
Hmm, so based on what you are saying to compete I'd have to get to there level start there and improve from there? Something I don't get about business is it really all about having a better product? I mean there are SO MANY businesses that are the same and they all compete fine. Examples include

*Coffee shops
*Kebab shops
*Retail shops
*Car mechanic shops

They are literally all the same businesses will little to no difference, and they all still have a business. Or is there something else to it?

Also if I was to start small do you think customers would give new businesses a chance to grow or they would expect everything to be at the top straight away?
 

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How about we ignore everything for a second...

What's your business, what do you sell, and what are your goals?
He's been asked what his biz is like 10 times across 4-6 threads and I still have no idea

That's why I find it hard to give relevant advice and thus all his posts turn into entrepreneur theory

Which is cool - nothing wrong with theory

I get in that mindset sometimes, and there's always value to be found in these threads

But every answer turns into another 3 questions... it's like a snake monster where you chop a head off and 3 more grow in place

And the questions are just not specific enough

The last question was just a waste of a question - you could just Google

"how to differentiate from competitors"

@LiveEntrepreneur you're worrying about problems you don't currently have

You're asking all these questions without having a business model in the first place

You have to look up biz models or have an idea of a way you can provide value to people

Threads like these are oftentimes just a clever way to procrastinate when you are unsure of your next step

I'm guilty of it too - you just gotta TRY shit

Eventually all the thinking and reading is gonna stress you the F*ck out until you get fed up and just make a damn web page or send out a damn email
 

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If you can answer whose problem you're solving and what the problem is, and roughly how, you can probably answer the subject question in this thread. Two statements from two different businesses:
  • We help bored college students stay awake in class to avoid embarrassment and bad grades. We do this by placing candy and iced coffee machines near statistics and philosophy classrooms on college campuses nationwide.
  • We help middle market CEOs build stronger connections to their team members, both personally and professionally. We do this by booking exciting planning retreats, complete with meeting space, outdoor activities, and catering.
Which business benefits more from customer service?
 
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He's been asked what his biz is like 10 times across 4-6 threads and I still have no idea

That's why I find it hard to give relevant advice and thus all his posts turn into entrepreneur theory

Which is cool - nothing wrong with theory

I get in that mindset sometimes, and there's always value to be found in these threads

But every answer turns into another 3 questions... it's like a snake monster where you chop a head off and 3 more grow in place

And the questions are just not specific enough

The last question was just a waste of a question - you could just Google

"how to differentiate from competitors"

@LiveEntrepreneur you're worrying about problems you don't currently have

You're asking all these questions without having a business model in the first place

You have to look up biz models or have an idea of a way you can provide value to people

Threads like these are oftentimes just a clever way to procrastinate when you are unsure of your next step

I'm guilty of it too - you just gotta TRY sh*t

Eventually all the thinking and reading is gonna stress you the f*ck out until you get fed up and just make a damn web page or send out a damn email
I know I haven't, just for my own personal reasons. I try to take the advice to just do it. But it's really hard, I don't know if it's just a really bad habit or what.
 
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If you can answer whose problem you're solving and what the problem is, and roughly how, you can probably answer the subject question in this thread. Two statements from two different businesses:
  • We help bored college students stay awake in class to avoid embarrassment and bad grades. We do this by placing candy and iced coffee machines near statistics and philosophy classrooms on college campuses nationwide.
  • We help middle market CEOs build stronger connections to their team members, both personally and professionally. We do this by booking exciting planning retreats, complete with meeting space, outdoor activities, and catering.
Which business benefits more from customer service?
The second one?
 

Kung Fu Steve

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I know I haven't, just for my own personal reasons. I try to take the advice to just do it. But it's really hard, I don't know if it's just a really bad habit or what.
Because none of the advice is specific.

It's pointless advice. Theory, even.

Look, I get you don't want to share your super secret idea... but

1.) It's not unique.
2.) There are assholes here who will steal it
3.) It doesn't matter because they probably can't execute on it anyways.

So tell us what KIND of business it's in. eCommerce? Product? Service?

... you're not trying to build the next facebook are you...?
 

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Yeah I don't get what you mean by "personal reasons" - is someone going to kill you? Are you currently being held hostage by the Russian Mafia and being forced to make a profitable business under a non-disclosure?

If you don't get more specific people are going to abandon these threads period
 

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Hmm, so based on what you are saying to compete I'd have to get to there level start there and improve from there? Something I don't get about business is it really all about having a better product? I mean there are SO MANY businesses that are the same and they all compete fine. Examples include

*Coffee shops
*Kebab shops
*Retail shops
*Car mechanic shops

They are literally all the same businesses will little to no difference, and they all still have a business. Or is there something else to it?

Also if I was to start small do you think customers would give new businesses a chance to grow or they would expect everything to be at the top straight away?
Location matters too for the above business. You'll only drive so far to get to an auto mechanic. Or a kebab shop. These are "local" type businesses.

You are missing the difference between them. If one person gets food poisoning at the kebab shop, hundreds of people might know through word of mouth in a few days. Customers and locals are like a network full of hubs, all attenuating the signal to varying degrees. But a really strong signal will travel far and fast.

They aren't the same businesses either. Near me, we have these auto shops (and more):
  • The lone guy and his dad who occupy a 4 bay shop, who is amazing and will make technical tweaks you've never heard of, and loves old cars. He can fix anything. Anything. People bring him $300,000 cars pretty routinely. On the down side, it takes him weeks to finish a job.
  • The franchise place owned by a local Ford dealer, where literally every employee knows the customers on sight and remembers what cars they drive. They also have free coffee and a kids play area in their lobby, and everyone there is happy.
  • The other franchise place that spends heavily on advertising and has one of the best locations you could ask for on the main strip. They have a full retail store on location, with everything from custom exhaust, to mirror replacements/augments, to crazy rims. Inside looks immaculate. That said, if you let them change your oil they will underfill it or leave the drain loose, and you'll be lucky not to get engine damage. If you let them replace a part, there's about a 20% chance they'll botch the job. You go there at your own peril.
If you look at local businesses and think they're all the same, you're not looking closely. They have personalities and cultures like anything else, and that affects who their customers are.
 
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Because none of the advice is specific.

It's pointless advice. Theory, even.

Look, I get you don't want to share your super secret idea... but

1.) It's not unique.
2.) There are assholes here who will steal it
3.) It doesn't matter because they probably can't execute on it anyways.

So tell us what KIND of business it's in. eCommerce? Product? Service?

... you're not trying to build the next facebook are you...?
No lol. It's a service. A subscription service.
 

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No lol. It's a service. A subscription service.
Physical or digital product?

Either way you don't have to worry about providing ALL the bells and whistles your competitors have. You just need the core ones your customer base have indicated are must haves. Just build them better.

You can build in other features as and when required.

Microsoft Word is the king of word processors (IMHO). It has so many features, add-ons and integrations that it is a total power house product that has taken decades to develop to this stage.

Yet many people use Google Docs instead because they don't need all those features, have never used more than 10% of Words power. And, quite frankly, find it really complicated and intimidating due to all the tabs and layouts. (Also Google Docs it is free of course).

I've been using Word since I got a hacked copy as a poor student many years ago (sorry Microsoft, I have licences these days). I've used it ever since so am very familiar with it. But I just use it mainly for word processing. I don't need database integration, I don't do mail merges, I am not writing technical manuals nor 80,000 word books.

I have a subscription with a shaving company that send me blades every couple of months. To start with it was a handle and some blades. That was it. Then they added shaving gel, then I was asked if I wanted shaving balm. A couple of months later a facial scrub appeared. Now I have the option to add in vitamins to my order.

I love the company. Their products are good, their service is excellent, their branding on point. I love the fact that they email me a week before my order is due to let me know, plus to give me the option to delay my order if required (say I stop shaving for Movember for example so don't use as many blades).

A little bit of tough love:

You have by now enough opinions to satisfy your need for data so stop all this procrastinating, self doubt and overthinking and go out and actually build something. The only person who can limit your achievement is you and you are doing a grand job at the moment.

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy". – Dale Carnegie

“The stars will never align, and the traffic lights of life will never all be green at the same time. The universe doesn’t conspire against you, but it doesn’t go out of its way to line up the pins either. Conditions are never perfect. ‘Someday’ is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you. Pro and con lists are just as bad. If it’s important to you and you want to do it ‘eventually,’ just do it and correct course along the way.” — Tim Ferriss

 

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