Products vs. Solutions Part 2

By Guest Blogger Patrick Bunn

In my last post, I shared a story about my experience researching different fitness trackers. I talked about how the chief complaint regarding the two products I researched centered on the lack of sufficient customer service. I stated that in the end I didn’t purchase either product. Why? Because having a superior product is no longer sufficient in today’s economy; as consumers, we want to feel as if our opinion matters, or we take our business elsewhere.

Unhappy customer behaviorUnhappy customer behavior

What does that mean to us as product manufacturers? It seems some manufacturers focus only on producing what they believe to be superior products. At one time, that was sufficient for our economy: focus on great products, and you will be successful. But today, it’s not about being able to provide products orservices, but rather about providing products and services.

As product manufacturers, we can choose to ignore this trend of consumer-based feedback and let the opinions of dissatisfied customers poison the opinions of would-be clients, or we can harness this new marketing opportunity and capitalize on it by focusing on customer service. There isn’t a strong enough marketing campaign to combat a thousand negative reviews, yet no marketing director can develop a plan with a greater effect on sales than hundreds of satisfied customers singing our company’s praises.

Proven ROI QuoteProven ROI Quote

So how do we stay competitive in this new, customer service-driven marketplace? First, we must focus on creating a great product. This may seem like the obvious part. No one releases something they know to be sub-par; their reputation is on the line. I’m not at all trying to take away from this aspect of our business focus. Poor ideas and poor quality wouldn’t even get your product on the potential list of consumers.

There are more than a hundred fitness trackers on the market, but I only really looked at about a dozen or so because I felt the rest were sub-par. We must produce products that captivate our audience.  As a systems integrator, this would be the actual control panel the customer receives from us.

Sharing good vs. bad experiencesSharing good vs. bad experiences

The second aspect of being competitive in today’s marketplace is constantly striving for improvement. A fine example of this is Apple. There are many products Apple has produced over the years where they could have stopped and retired, thinking they had “made it.” But year after year, they push the boundaries of technology and innovation to see what new creative product they can develop and produce next. Their objective isn’t simply a sale but rather another feat in engineering creativity.

The way we strive for improvement is through customer feedback. We should not be so arrogant as to think what we’ve developed and produced could never be improved upon. If we realize there is always room for improvement, our eyes will be more apt to perceiving opportunities for improvement when they present themselves. Some of these opportunities appear in the form of customer feedback and online reviews. Granted, there are some people who just like to complain. However, when multiple customers seem to have the same issue, there may be something worth investigating. The sign of a company striving for improvement can be measured by the action taken from the feedback they’ve received.

Results of bad experiencesResults of bad experiences

Third, we must focus on customer service. The old saying says that customer service is king. I think manufacturers have gotten away from that mindset. As you can tell from my story in Part 1, a lot of the reviews for the products I was considering stated the customers were dissatisfied with the product, and ultimately with the company,  because of the lack of customer service. I read some of the comments in reply to a lot of the negative reviews and there were quite a few people who stated they would never buy anything from that company simply because someone else stated they had a poor experience with that company’s customer service. It is important to remember that poor customer service does not only affect those who have purchased our products, but also those who may be considering selecting us.

There is no product great enough to overcome a tainted brand. Customers want to feel as if they matter. They want to feel they have a say. They want a company that listens to their concerns. Customers who feel their voice is heard by a company tend to be more likely to be repeat customers, regardless of the product.

In Part 3, I will explore in more detail what customer service is, how it’s evaluated, and how Revere approaches it.