As an entrepreneur and business owner, I understand what it takes to put a business into the success column. You can have one of the greatest products or services and even offer it at a fantastic price, but if you don’t back it up with great customer service, you won’t win the day.
Businesses start and fall each and every day, but those that last are because they bring together both their product and their service. You need to have the right combination in order to succeed in business.
When I started my ecommerce business back in 2005, I was not starting a new niche. No, I jumped into the largest and most competitor-laden niche around: selling consumer electronics. Why get into such a competitive niche? That’s an easy answer. I’ve had a serious passion for electronics ever since I touched my first computer. I’ve never looked back.
In order for me to succeed, I needed to create a business built on a solid reputation, but how do you do that if you don’t have a reputation? Well, I needed to create one, one customer at a time. I couldn’t compete on price for the majority of my products. The margins are just too low and unless you purchase a lot of inventory up front, you will never be able to compete with the big boys. I wanted to compete on service.
As a one-man show, I knew the pulse of the operation. I knew all the reasons orders got messed up, why a person wanted to make a return, and everything in between. While some might say that running a business on your own is a disadvantage (and on many levels I’ll agree with you), I made being on my own my advantage as much as possible.
Year after year, I grew the company. I was getting more customers, more order, more revenue, and more reviews. I worked extremely hard to make sure that every customer was happy with their purchase. I pulled as many strings as I could to make any issue right. I might have been obsessed with it, but that was my selling point.
The only reason why my company grew so much was because I provided a service level that could not be matched by many larger companies. I answered emails within the hour, I took calls at midnight and I shipped out products quickly and efficiently. Since my service was my calling card, I had to make sure I nailed it each and every time. If I let a customer down, I knew that I had to improve and learn from the experience.
It has been four years since I shut my online business down. There were many reasons to close, but I would consider it a great success. The only reason for my success was due to my customer service. I found what many people will tell you isn’t true: people weren’t just going online to find a low price, but they also wanted good customer service. There are quite a few businesses that I have frequented that provide horrible service. It doesn’t surprise me when they close their doors. It’s your customers that keep the business afloat. Without customers, there would be no business. My one tip for any business is to return your focus back toward excellent customer service. As more companies enter the game, the best way to differentiate yourself is to focus on creating a spectacular customer experience.
Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup. He has started businesses, sold businesses, and shut businesses down. As an entrepreneur at heart, business is in his blood. You can connect with him on Twitter or Google +.