Business Irish

Sunday 25 March 2018

Why would customers choose you instead of competitors?

Problem solver: Business veteran Feargal Quinn answers your questions

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

Q I own a small early stage double glazing window company. Business is reasonable but I am struggling to create awareness among the public, are there any tips you can give me?

A In the last few months in my column here, we have been getting more enquiries from people who have just started up a business and this is really refreshing. Well done!

The start point is to identify why you are different from other glazing companies. In your own mind, you need to be crystal clear (excuse the pun!) on what makes you stand out from all of your competitors.

Are you cheaper than everyone else? Is the standard of the windows better than everyone else's? Is the overall customer service package superior to others?

In other words, why would a customer pass all of your competitors and come to you?

Once you are clear on this, it is now down to communication. You should set out a marketing plan for the next 12 months and make a list of all the activities you could conduct and the approximate cost of each one.

Think of things like a really great website, a social media strategy, door to door leaflets, traditional advertising in either print media or radio.

As well as all the formal marketing, I am a great believer in word of mouth and you can only achieve this if you deliver a world class standard.

So you need to look at every element of your business to ensure it does just that!

Q I am a student and have chosen customer service as a topic to write about for my dissertation. I am at the early stages of research and would welcome your opinion on how you would define customer service.

A There are lots of definitions of customer service in the text books and, to be honest, I don't agree with most of them as they focus more on technical definitions and very often don't reflect reality.

Service is all about culture and creating the right environment for people to deliver that culture. It starts with recruiting the correct people and it also has to be driven from the very top of the business.

Everyone in Superquinn knew that putting customers first was my main priority in the business and therefore it also became the main priority for everyone else.

We worked in an environment where the customer was king and that dictated how everyone viewed customer service.

I also read lots of books that talk about good customer service but what we should be talking about is great customer service.

As an example, say you visit your local wine shop and you enquire about their range of South African wines, a rather pleasant staff member takes you to the section, gives you a quick overview and heads on about their business. That is good service.

However, picture the same scenario where the staff member takes you through the section, talks you through the top three or four selling wines, gives you an opinion from a personal tasting he attended from one of the wines and prints off some tasting notes for you. Now that is great customer service.

The likelihood is that the latter has been delivered because the culture in that organisation is correct.

In answer to your question, forget too many technical definitions and focus on passionate people delivering great service in a meaningful way.

Email your questions to

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business