Andrew Capelli of Stewart Title is a new ActiveRain member and he wrote a really interesting post that compares toothpaster to customer service. Well, not really but you'll understand when you read his post. It's a great analogy.
And since Andrew is a newbie, please go over and say Hello and welcome him to ActiveRain. I have disabled commenting on my reblog.
A month or so ago I saw an ad on tv for a new toothpaste. The dentist in the commercial conveyed that basically unless you used the new formula, your enamel would evaporate and your teeth would fall out of your mouth. I admit I am a sucker for trying new things, even if they're a touch gimmicky. So, even though I've managed to keep my smile intact all these years without the latest product, I went ahead and purchased a can of it.
That's right, the new toothpaste was in a can. Perhaps it's to set it apart from other brands, or perhaps because you just can't put the new "scientific" blend in a tube... but that's where my newfound appreciation for the preservation of my enamel came to an abrupt halt. As I was preparing to brush my teeth last night, it occurred to me that I have no way of knowing how much toothpaste is left in the container. I'd either have to keep two cans on the counter at all times or risk running out and not being able to brush my teeth until I went to the store again.
Granted, that's a really minor problem in the grand scheme of things! However, for the toothpaste manufacturer, it may be a big problem- because I'm sure that company is planning on people buying the cans more than once, and I think that is unlikely to happen. Even though it may cause only minor stress, I don't want any more stress in my life- and with a tube I know where I stand.
Whether we provide a product, such as title insurance, or a service such as escrow & real estate closings, we're trying to attract customers away from someone else. And while we're all not literally changing our packaging, we are trying to assert a "competitive advantage"- something that sets us apart, that is a compelling reason to work with us instead of our competitors. The lesson of the toothpaste can, then, is to try to envision how that competitive advantage is perceived by the actual end-users, the clients.
Is your latest competitive advantage a fancy new app? What if your prospects don't have smart-phones? Is it a renovated facility? How convenient is it for your clients to travel to you? Whatever it is that you are trying to highlight to demonstrate how unique you are, strip down the "bells and whistles" and try to think about how your prospects will actually experience it. Check it out from different angles. Invite trusted customers to give you feedback and input before opening it up to a broader market.
You may find you don't even need to change anything at all. At Stewart Title, for example, the core attraction really comes down to great customer service: fast turnaround time on title commitments, accuracy, friendliness, professionalism, etc. If those aren't all maintained, then no incentive programs or advertisements are going to make a difference. When it comes down to it, it's what's "inside the container" that really counts... of course, having minty breath does help! :)