By Ben Camerota, president of MVP Visuals.
Over the past four years, my company slowly developed a service strategy that has become the backbone of who we are as an organization. This plan is best summed up by our guarantee that increased our active customer base by almost twenty percent in its first year. When I first became an entrepreneur, I had one goal: to build a brand that delivered incredible service. And even though most people on our team initially had limited experience in our industry, that didn't stop us from creating a process that made our customers feel special.
High-quality assistance was going to be the key to our success as an e-commerce company. Here's the template we used to create a customer guarantee that drives revenue. By following these steps, you can too.
1. Create a guarantee that scares your competition (and maybe scares you as well).
We live in an event-driven industry, so delivery dates are incredibly important. As most new customers begin the order process on our website, it was important to give our customers the confidence to know their items would be delivered on time. We wanted our guarantee tactics to scare the competition: What could we offer that other companies in our industry would look at and wince?
For us, it was a guaranteed delivery date or your money back. There would be no excuses. Manufacturing mishaps, delivery delays, or any other reason you could think of would be included. And we'd refund within 24 hours, no questions asked. We had already made customer satisfaction our No. 1 focus, so a guarantee based on service was a natural fit.
To start the process for your own business, first, make a list of your unique value propositions. What do you do better than the competition? Next, create a record of the "big issues" your customers face each day. This list should illustrate concerns they always have but can never solve.
Lastly, cross-reference the two. Where is there opportunity to integrate what you do best with a killer guarantee that helps your customers? Although our goal was to scare our competitors, as I drew closer to telling our staff, I myself got scared. Was this the right move? I looked at our past performance with delivery metrics and decided to plow ahead.
2. Roll it out, and prepare to defend it.
Once I drank my own Kool-Aid, I had to convince the rest of the company. Our service team was terrified of missing delivery dates and the resulting consequences. I couldn't blame them. The failed launch would mean upset customers and a loss of revenue. After voicing their concerns, I asked a simple question: How many times had each person missed an event date in the past six months? They could think of two. Total.
Communication is critical in any business, but more so when you're rolling out new initiatives. It's important to ensure you're not simply outlining the "what," but also the "why." Include your employees in the decision-making process. They don't need to make the final call (that's your job) but they should be given the opportunity to understand how new plans are formed.
We were creating a guarantee that had limited risk, namely because each team member was doing an amazing job managing the production flow and customer communication. They eventually relented, but only after we talked through why I thought this guarantee was so valuable.
3. Measure the results to ensure you can afford it.
With a guarantee that involved an instant refund, it was important to track our results. We created a line in our order system to flag any refund orders in the first 30, 60 and 90 days. After multiple refunds were issued in the first few weeks, two things happened: First, I developed major anxiety. And second, that anxiety was quickly lifted as we didn't issue a single refund over the next three months.
Hard-line guarantees that scare away your competition can have the opposite effect on your prospective customers: It draws them in. Have this guarantee be your purpose, your cause and your passion. It should be a line in the sand that separates your brand from everyone else's.
Creating a guarantee that drives revenue can be a little scary. With the right mix of research and patience, however, you can create a promise that puts fear in the hearts of your competitors, instills trust in your customers, and amounts to money in your bank account.
Ben Camerota is president of MVP Visuals, a national supplier of custom branded displays.