How to compete – Lesson 3 : The personal touch

This lesson follows on from “be different” and in some ways is the same point, but I think this one deserves it’s own post because it is very pertinent to those likely to be reading this blog.

It may sound obvious but one reason some people prefer to deal with smaller organisations, or individuals, is the fact that they can get some personal attention, and they can feel important.

Large corporations can seem cold, and when you call up you will probably never speak to the same person twice. For a demonstration of this, call up your telecoms provider a few times and see if you speak to the same person.

Be a good little fish

Sometimes being a small fish in a big pond can seem daunting, but use it in the right way and you will find in many ways it can be a significant advantage. i have dealt with clients who are so impressed with the level of service and communication that what started out as a small job rapidly grew into more business, simply because I treated them personally, communicated effectively (and often!) and was transparent in the whole design process.

Call back!

I cannot stress this enough. If you promise to call a client at a specific date or time, DO IT! This may sound so obvious but it is amazing how often this does not happen. Large corporations are worse at it than small ones, I must say. What I will say is if you keep your promises you “may” have a customer for life, but if you fail to keep your promise you may not keep them til next week!

Follow up

This is one aspect that is often overlooked, and is something that can be very effective. Maybe it is because a lot of us designers come from design backgrounds as opposed to sales backgrounds. We prefer to get stuck in, producing products, designs etc.

If you speak to a successful sales person they will have a big list of clients. When they have a gap in their day they will be on the phone, checking in with their customers, keeping at the forefront of their mind. This is oh so easy to do, not necessarily by phone, but certainly by email. Even if you don’t get more business from it, it will no doubt be appreciated and make the customer feel important.

It’s not rocket science

This is probably one of the easiest posts to apply to your work. It is pretty much ALL common sense. Maybe you are doing it all already, maybe you can improve.

The overriding message here, I suppose, is make your customers like you. If your customers like you and respect you then guess what?… They will talk about you and recommend you. You will have heard it time and time again but personal recommendation is the best sort of business you can get. It is easy to achieve if you play your cards right and follow some simple rules, but is often overlooked.

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