Everyone prefers customization to standardization.
Skiers know that a pair of custom-fitted ski boots will be more comfortable and provide greater performance. Golfers realize they can up their game, and lower their score, with a custom-fitted set of golf clubs. Style-conscious young professionals covet custom-fitted clothes to look their best. And we all love to have that special meal, custom made just for us.
Sometimes just adding a special touch to something standard makes it more valuable in our eyes. A football is no longer just a football when it’s autographed by a star quarterback. A book becomes more than just a book when it’s personalized by the author.
For better or worse, we live a world full of standardization. We have standard food, standard cars, and standard clothing. We have also become accustomed to standard service.
To be clear, standardization offers a number of benefits. For the seller, standardization is more economical, easier to produce and reduces the chances for errors. It’s also easier to train those producing the standard product or providing the standard service to do things in one specific manner. For the consumer, we know what to expect with standardization and we can rely upon its predictability. Most importantly, standardization results in lower prices.
But wouldn’t it be great if customized services were available at standardized prices?
If you are working with customers, it should be your goal to add value by providing them with a service that is tailored to their specific needs and expectations. This is one of the most basic ways to separate yourself as an excellent provider of service, and one of the best ways to grow a business and a customer base.
Fortunately, providing the customer with customized service has a surprisingly high return on investment. Think for a moment of the individuals who have sold you a standard product or standard service but did so in a way that made it feel customized. Possibly they showed an interest in learning about you and your specific needs. They took the time to understand why you were buying this product or service, and what you hoped to accomplish. They asked the right questions, listened, and then responded in a thoughtful and customized manner.
While this process may take a little more time on the part of the service provider, the added cost for the recipient is likely minimal – and the results from enhancing the customer-service experience can be significant. Customers are acutely aware of how they are treated. When they experience value-added service at a standard price, they keep coming back. They also tell others, and start building your business for you.
Whether you are a seasoned business owner or just starting out, taking your customer service to the next level simply requires one quality: a willingness to do so.
Brian T. King is the founder and owner of multiple firms encompassing design, construction, real estate, and manufacturing, and currently president of the integrated Design-Build firm A M King. Brian shares his passion for mentoring young professionals, rising managers, and entrepreneurs at speaking engagements around the country, on podcasts, and via his blog.