I am going to tell you how to differentiate your business so distinctly that you will dominate your marketplace and keep a steady stream of customers coming to your door. The secret is obvious, but like water to a fish, it seems that the vast majority of business owners have no idea at all about it. It does take a little more money, time and discipline, but the rewards of implementing this secret are overwhelming. I am also convinced that if properly implemented, even direct competitors are highly unlikely to successfully copy you.

What is this incredibly powerful business secret?
It is called delivering: Consistently Superior Customer Service. That’s it? All the work-up just to tell me to give good customer service? Yes, absolutely. Because in today’s business world getting even mediocre service is a joy, getting Consistently Superior Customer Service is almost unheard of, and valued as a rare and precious thing by most customers. Before you feel like I tricked you, let me explain.

My wife and I are very busy people. I travel upwards of 200 days a year and she is a partner in both of my companies. Because we are DINK’s (Double Income No Kids) who work long hours and spend weeks on the road, we have a small army of service people that assist us. A yard man, house keeper, handy-man (since I have zero fixer-upper skills), some folks that check on our Koi pond to make sure the fish are still alive, the local dry cleaner, an auto mechanic we go to. In addition, we are nearing completion of building a new home, which means another 20+ sub-contractors we work with on tile, plumbing, cabinets, stone, cement, painting, flooring, electrical, roofing… you get the idea. Yesterday I challenged my wife with this question: “name one single vendor we have worked with in the last two years that has not in some way disappointed us. Name just one that you would say has delivered consistently superior customer service.” She thought for a minute… and was unable to do it. Actually it launched both of us off on a long discussion of how terrible the service we get is from almost every single business we do business with. From restaurants to furniture stores to the local bank – all of them deeply disappoint far more than they ever delight.

And I hear this lament everywhere I go. Give just about anyone an opening and they will talk your ear off about how badly they were treated by the cell phone or cable company. Ask them about waiting in their doctor’s office for three hours and see their blood pressure explode. Inquire about the last time they made an “appointment” for a air conditioning repairman to come to their house “between 9 and 12” and he showed up at 4 PM, was grumpy, smelled bad and charged $400 for one hour of work and probably $30 in parts. I tell you it is enough to make you want to cry… until you realize it can make you rich.

For the very few companies who figure out how to deliver Consistently Superior Customer Service, the world will be their oyster. Answer the phone by the second ring. Treat all customers with friendliness and respect. Offer a great product at a reasonable price. Show up on time, make sure the bill is correct, thank them for their business, always give a little more than people expect. I don’t need to go into every detail of how to give superior service but I do need to tell you that I could not be more serious about this “secret.” Everywhere I go people complain about how bad customer service has become in our country, and when you hear everybody complaining about the same thing, you should hear opportunity knocking. If you are the only company they deal with that truly lives up to your promises and delivers Consistently Superior Customer Service, they will love you, give you their money, patronize you and tell all of their friends about the unbelievable company they know that actually still gives good customer service. If that is not a competitive advantage, I don’t know what is.