Last week, Susanne and I paid a visit to the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent.
The point of our visit wasn’t to skip school and go shopping, but it was a field trip to observe how brands present themselves in a competitive market and with a particular focus on the customer experience. Working in the ICT sector doesn’t mean we can’t learn by observing what other sectors do; spotting what’s remarkable and re-purposing it for our clients.
We headed into Beaverbrooks as with 2012 being a leap year, my watch, not being a “smart” watch, was permanently stuck one day ahead. Without even questioning whether I had purchased the watch from them (I hadn’t), the staff were kind enough to take a look and try to help there and then.
Unfortunately they couldn’t help resolve the problem, so they gave me few suggestions and got plenty of kudos for trying. I have to say, my first experience of customer service was a very positive one and more importantly, they have left me with a positive image of their brand.
The next stop was Hotel Chocolat and whist I’m not a big chocolate fan, I couldn’t help but oblige the assistant who was offering me a free taster as I came through the door. I can’t resist a freebie so I tried one and found it was delicious! All it did was leave a lovely aftertaste in your mouth and make me think of chocolate the whole time I was there. A very neat and simple tactic!
It’s easy enough for them to give away free chocolate or for the jewellers to give away some their time, but how do technology companies give away ‘free tasters’?
Certain vendors can do this quite easily by using a freemium model for their software, whereby they give away their basic version and charge you for any upgrades. Examples of this include AVG, LinkedIn, or WordPress.
It’s a bit more challenging for the Managed Services Provider, since it would be too costly to send your engineers out on free jobs in the hope to secure more services. Too often is the case that prospective businesses looking for network support are not in the position to appreciate ‘value’ and may even unwittingly abuse this system. The risk with this type of approach for most, would be simply too high.
If a customer approaches you with a simple break-fix problem, you could do it for free to try and win more business but most organisations have moved away from break fix and don’t like to compromise their integrity, as they feel all their services should come at a price that reflects their value.
There are, however, other ways to provide customers with a taster of your services by simply sharing some of that great knowledge and experience stored within. If you have someone approach you with a problem, share some ideas with them but don’t give away the how, that way they will respect your know-how but will want to come back for more, as most probably they are missing the experience to do it themselves.
You can give away a little Intellectual Property, without compromising your integrity, as long as you know where to draw the line. It’s also a great way to start building trust and relationships, as you are seen as open enough to share some information in the hope of gaining trust to get something back.
So, if you are not doing so already, find some new watering holes, especially ones that aren’t so overcrowded and where your expertise is valued and not overshadowed by others communicating a similar message..
Get out there and give away your own version of a taster and you’ll either have them coming back for more or going away with a positive image of your brand. Even if they don’t buy from you immediately, you may have done a good enough job that they refer a colleague to you instead.
Oh and if you’re wondering how I solved the watch issue, after playing around with it for a bit I got it back to the right date. I’ve no idea how but at least I won’t have the problem again for another four years!