Service to Make You Smile: Five Ways to Differentiate Yourself from Competitors

As the economic bad news continues to pile up in 2009, maintaining (to say nothing of growing) your business has never been a more daunting task. But superior customer service may well prove to be your company’s lifeline. :Times are tough, and showing customers you truly care about their business can be the key to keeping your business afloat," advises Girisha Chandraraj, vice president of marketing for BroderBros. Co., a distributor of imprintable sportswear and accessories. Chandraraj offers the following five tips for differentiating yourself accordingly:<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>1. Help customers stay ahead of the curve.</b> Anticipate key seasonal and other opportunities to build your respective businesses. What are their peak sale seasons? What are others in their industry sector doing in terms of promotions and marketing? Bring best<br clear="none" /> practices to the table to ensure they maintain their competitive edge. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>2. Customer priorities are changing.</b> What may have worked last year, or what may be planned for 2009 could be radically altered depending on your clients’ budget and how they realign their priorities. This means you may have to re-route your efforts and take it on the chin. Recognize that we are entering a market where customers will be adjusting rapidly and you need to adjust with them. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> 3. In today's tight economy, customers are doing more with less. Be sure to<b> give your customers more than one option</b> to show you're doing your best to help them manage their costs. Give them alternatives on a variety of dimensions such as price, creative options and quality. They'll appreciate the effort.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> 4. While many promotional shops respond to customer requests by copying pages out of a catalog, it's far better to <b>go the extra mile </b>and create a professional, memorable presentation that will make your business look like a winner&#x2026;and allow you to secure larger clients. <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <b>5. Be mindful of budget constraints</b> in 2009 and make sure you emphasize ROI. Work closely with customers to understand what their “success” metrics are so you can develop campaigns that will deliver. Make sure you understand your customers’ perceived needs so you can make effective campaign suggestions to meet (and hopefully exceed) those needs.