The other day I was listening to an entrepreneur who was saying that in her company they give different customers separate and distinct levels of service. Is this a good approach? Can it work for a small business?
If you walk into a retail shop, restaurant or even barber, you’re probably going to get the same level of service that all customers receive. In a restaurant, for example, you are probably only going to get politeness, personalisation and maybe promptness. The same applies to a retail supermarket or discount appliances or computer store. In the larger chains you will be lucky if anyone helps you or if they do their level of product knowledge will often be absent.
Not all customers are the same. You get loyal customers, enquiring customers, impulse shoppers and even browsers. The enquiring customer may have a lot of questions they want answered before they are ready to buy. Not every business has loyal repeat customers but those that do can capitalise on this.
Look at what the airlines do. You’ll find three or so levels of service: economy, business class and first-class. The airline provides an offering to cater for each type of customer. Frequent flyer packages ensnare the loyal customers who travel often on the same airline.
How can a small business take advantage of providing different and separate levels of service?
An online business, for example, that offers expertise in small business consulting may have an entry-level e–book as one level of service for customers who have shallow pockets. Next up could be a DVD video training course. A higher level of service could include one-on-one private consultations. Freebie seekers who are unlikely to become customers can be catered for with a free download cheat sheet or e-book and a list of FAQs (frequently answered questions).
The point is to give customers options. Go eat at a Chinese restaurant and see how many options are available. If you buy a book from Amazon you will have a number of different delivery and shipping options from a 1 to 3 day courier service, a two-week delivery and standard shipping that can take anything from a month to a month and a half.
Finding and fine-tuning different levels of customer service helps prevent going overboard for customers who demand high levels of service but don’t want to pay for it and eat into your profits. Segmenting your customer service into separate and distinct levels will make customers happier and benefit your bottom line.
If you are starting a venture of your own from scratch, look at this first before you make big and costly mistakes.