I was recently speaking at a conference when an audience member asked me a question about differentiators.
“We say one of the things that make us different is our customer service. Is that enough of a differentiator for our brand?” he asked.
I answered simply, “no.”
It may be true that your business provides truly remarkable service.
Unfortunately, what is also true is that “excellent customer service” is an all-too common claim made by innumerable businesses in their marketing and branding.
It does not differentiate you.
Once a promise like that has been repeated, over and over, as it has in our world, it becomes as interesting, and common, as a potato. And it is rendered meaningless to the audience.
Worse than that, repeated too insistently, such a claim can also trigger doubt and skepticism.
That doesn’t mean you need to abandon ship on the service you provide – or find a new differentiator. Instead, it indicates a need to go a deeper and be more granular on what makes your service so special.
Tell your audience specifically how you provide that customer service. Do you have a dedicated customer advocate to each account? Do you answer all questions within a set amount of time? How, exactly, is your customer service excellent?
A great example of this is Southwest Airlines. They could talk ad nauseum about their excellent customer service. But they don’t.
Instead, they talk about how for their customers, bags fly free. They talk about how they don’t charge change fees.
Going beyond explaining their service, Southwest often ties these messages to how they love their customers, and they use the word love freely.
Which brings me to another point about service as a differentiator.
While you as a brand may pride yourself on a particular aspect of how you run your business, and you may share that with the people you serve, the real opportunity is to share how that action ties to something you believe.
To serve another is a beautiful thing, be that in business or life. But to serve another as the action of a deep belief or conviction can change a heart, or create a relationship for life.
In order to do that, you must know what you believe in above all, and begin to connect the dots between what you believe and how you behave.
For Southwest, their actions reflect a deep belief in love.
For Root + River, we believe in beauty. We live that out by creating everyday. We add creativity to our content, to our illustrations, to our brand discovery experiences. We freely collaborate with other creatives to infuse the work we do for our clients with even more creativity.
Every brand must stand for something.
And first, you must know what you stand for.
Being aware of and sharing these beliefs is ultimately a great act of vulnerability, and service, to your clients.
And vulnerability is difficult. Telling someone what you stand for is rarely comfortable.
That’s why so few brands do it and prefer bland marketing instead.
Don’t be one of them.