While the Web, social media, smartphones and tablets are all the rage when it comes to new marketing approaches, they are merely extensions of what drives most security businesses: word of mouth. SSI’s Sales & Marketing Survey shows that, regardless of paradigm shifts during the past five years in how people communicate, the No. 1 source of sales prospects remains referrals. Be it the Stone Age or Space Age, personalized, attentive and effective service continues to be king — only today’s connected masses spread the word faster and farther than ever before. Depending on your company’s performance, that can be leveraged to rule the kingdom … or lead to exile.
Customer-focused ideology was prevalent among those who selected “other” when asked in the study which incentives are most helpful in closing sales. “Treating the customer like a human being,” “Availability and free support,” “Value-add solutions,” “My word,” “Reputation,” “Honesty” and “Customer service above all else” were among the comments. Unfortunately — much like a guy trying to impress a girl — far too often providers talk the talk but come up short in execution and long-term diligence.
A couple of my recent experiences speak to the profound difference it makes when action supersedes platitudes. Although they did not involve security companies they nevertheless vividly illustrate the point, and also show how entrepreneurial businesses are able to grow their footprints nationally while continuing to prioritize premium customer care.
Jason’s Deli, a nationwide chain founded in 1976, is a favorite restaurant I often take my son to on weekends following his team sports activities. The combination of courteous service, good food, healthy options, fair prices and family friendly atmosphere is enough to get us to hop on the interstate and travel 15 miles — passing up countless other options along the way. However, this eatery really earned my unwavering loyalty during one such visit when I ordered, reached for my wallet to pay and realized I had left it at home. My heart sank, and I thought we had made the trip for naught and my boy would go hungry. But recognizing us as regular customers, the cashier smiled, said not to sweat it, and fetched the shift manager to forgive my bill. It was personal, it was special, and it was unforgettable.
The other amazing experience was with iResQ, an online-oriented Apple repair and upgrade specialist based in Olathe, Kan. I discovered the company while searching for a way to replace the battery in my iPod Touch. After reviewing iResQ’s comprehensive Web site, reading glowing customer feedback and finding the cost was half that of a local brick-and-mortar alternative, I took the plunge. Just 72 hours after I shipped it from my North Carolina home — its progress easily tracked throughout online — the device was repaired and back on my doorstep. Wow!
Shortly after I got it back, however, I noticed the camera did not work. I contacted iResQ via its handy live rep chat feature and sent the unit off to Kansas once more. The very next day, a technician called me to discuss what he had found. He asked if the Touch had been in water and cited some corrosion as the problem. I confirmed it had been submerged (during a canoeing incident), information I intentionally withheld for fear of higher charges. Although it was fixable and the battery repair cost could be credited toward the additional work, the expense approached the cost of buying a brand-new device. So when the tech told me I could opt for a complete refund — meaning the company would receive no compensation despite its efforts — I jumped at the opportunity. Such prompt, reasonably priced, convenient, honest and personalized service will have me forever singing this company’s praises.
Both of these are prime examples of businesses going above and beyond, and having conscientious customer-facing representatives empowered to solve problems that meet or exceed expectations. Is your company delighting customers and providing such unforgettable experiences? Particularly in a competitive landscape where companies like iResQ are rewriting business models, you must fully commit to ensuring your company is a pleasure to deal with.