Customer Service Wins Every Time – Price Cannot Compete

As I write this, I am reminded of an incident that happened a week back – the United Airlines episode where a hapless passenger was gravely mistreated. Since enough and more has been written about this, I don’t intend to delve deep into this topic, apart from pointing out one thing, that an organization as large as theirs forgot the mantra ‘it takes months to find a customer and only seconds to lose one’. In a matter of few hours the company was embroiled in a PR crisis and in a couple of days their share prices crashed and they faced negative backlash and criticism, that is much deserved, if I may say so.

Focus on the basics

Now-a-days, it is not only a company’s pricing strategy that wins customers. To attain your set targets, you may reduce your pricing and win clients, but would that assure your clients remain loyal to you? Is price THE only deciding factor for a customer to not look at your competitors’ offerings? While winning customers may not seem as challenging, retaining the existing ones sure isn’t as easy as it seems. The cost advantage is no longer the only parameter for customers. You must look beyond this and develop an alternate strategy that focuses on quality and brand experience.

Gone are the days when there were limited players that reigned the market and price was not a deterrent. We live in a world where there is a market for everything and this is not just the virtual world that I am talking about. With multiple crowdfunding platforms available for entrepreneurs and innovators, companies are launching faster than ever before. (Companies large and small tapping into crowdfunding)

Go the extra mile. It is never crowded.

In the face of cut-throat competition, when companies are looking at gaining market share and rapidly increase their customer base, it is important to deliver on all fronts and not just offer the lowest price. You win customers when you offer more value. Remember all the instances when you have taken a liking to a company or its products because of the service received and the price wasn’t the deciding factor. Have your customers at the center of your business strategy and you are sure to stand apart from your competition. Provide extra services/ benefits. At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must remind you that no brand has a monopoly in the marketplace anymore, so if you don’t keep your customers happy, some other company will.

Deliver an experience

With the dominance of social media in our lives, we have become extremely vocal – be it raving about our local restaurant or ranting about X brand’s customer service. On any given day, Twitter and Facebook is abuzz with happy and unhappy customers, recommending as well as criticizing services/ products. Those are your customers talking, are you really listening? More often than not, organizations stick to a set of standard replies when replying to aggrieved customers. That really doesn’t help in addressing your consumer’s concerns – there must be more personal involvement. Excellent customer service is the deciding factor for consumers to place their trust in a brand. While it certainly isn’t possible to keep all your customers happy, but the majority should be. Consumers stay loyal to a brand when they know they are heard and their grievances are addressed.

As an organization, your sole aim should be to provide an exceptional customer experience. Just to drive this point home, I’d like to mention a study that states by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. When we speak of customer experience, think Apple. All Apple users are brand loyalists and evangelists. They love the brand to the point where they are willing to wait in queues hours together to own the product on the day of its launch. The products are not loved because of its pricing. The thrill of owning an Apple product and the sheer experience it offers is incomparable. You need to strive to deliver an experience that is unmatched.

And as I sign off I’d like to leave you with this thought – The customer’s perception is your reality: Kate Zabriskie

– Dhruv Jain, Director, Expotrade Global

The article originally appeared in LinkedIn

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Smart Cities, Sustainable Cities: The Future of Urban Development in Qatar

One of the most important aspects of sustainable design is its ability to adopt a multilayered understanding of the needs of communities, sites and the environment to propose integrated solutions that not only address short and long term environmental and economic benefits but could provide opportunities to enhance social and cultural aspects of the development. Over the past few years, this has extended beyond the scale of buildings well into the public realm to include sustainable urban development strategies, infrastructure design and smart city solutions.

The reasons for creating more sustainable design solutions to minimize the environmental impact of cities are no longer questionable. The main issues facing designers and developers now are how to find the most suitable, smart city solutions that balance client needs, project budgets and the environmental design challenges and opportunities that arise from a project’s context. This is why creating sustainable urban environments will be a continuous endeavor that the Middle East will be experiencing over the coming years.

Fueled by an economic boom that adds pressure on available resources, Qatar, like other countries in the region, is at a crossroads to rethink its approach to urban planning and design to create more sustainable built environments on a macro level and redefine the impact of its future cities. Many steps have already been taken as part of the country’s ongoing efforts to realize the goals of the Qatar National Vision 2030, where the country is witnessing a number of large-scale development projects set to the highest local and international sustainability standards. Over the coming years, it is crucial to continue down this path by providing the necessary tools to ensure that targets are met. The integrated efforts of all stakeholders will not only ensure that goals are realized but set on a continuous path of sustainable development.

–  by Rashed Al Nasa’a, Senior Sustainability Consultant, LEED AP BD+C, WELL AP, GSAS CGP, PQP, Arab Engineering Bureau