By Katrina Olson
In the electrical distribution industry, where products are not only similar but often the same, how do you rise above the noise and stand out in a crowded marketplace? Is it guaranteed, on-time delivery; uncompromising reliability; or a well-trained staff of experts who can always answer your customers’ questions, or promise to find the answer?
Take Office Depot, for example.
When I walk into Office Depot, a staff member greets me with a warm “Hello, can I help you find something today?” No matter what I need, they always know what aisle it’s in and where it’s located in that aisle. And if they’re not sure if they carry a certain product, they walk me to the aisle and help me look, instead of saying, “If we had it, it would be in aisle five.” And if it’s not in aisle five, they walk me to two other locations where it might be.
What does this tell me? It tells me that Office Depot’s brand image is “knowledgeable, helpful, courteous, and friendly.”
Contrast that with my recent experience at a big-box store. I was hurriedly searching for a battery for my dog’s “pet containment system” receiver collar. I ran up to the customer service desk and asked, “Do you carry batteries for the PetSafe® Instant Fence collars—and don’t say if we had them they’d be in aisle 15.” I said it jokingly with a smile, but I meant it. And the guy said, “Well they should be in aisle 12.” Seriously?
Also, recently at Office Depot, I asked if I could use my newly issued $60 Office Depot Rewards certificate on a high-ticket purchase I made a week earlier. Unfortunately, I grabbed the wrong receipt before I left home—and I had paid by check, which made the transaction more difficult to track down. Despite the inconvenience the staff spent more than 15 minutes finding my transaction, then reran it so I could use my $60 certificate.
This tells me that Office Depot really cares about saving me money. And they’re willing to go out of their way to make it happen.
Do you know what’s special about your company? You may think it’s your extensive inventory or your employees’ product knowledge. And you may be right. But if you want to know for certain, ask your customers.
Olson is a veteran marketing and public relations consultant. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tagged with tED