“Choose us!” so many companies tell us, and there’s usually a reason why we listen; or why we don’t. Last week, I was hunting for stationery. This isn’t far out of my normal routine: I like stationery, but I needed something specific. In Kuala Lumpur, there are plenty of places to look, but I had limited time and did’t want to get stuck in traffic for the rest of the afternoon.
My first thought when I think ‘stationery’ is ‘bookshop’. That might just be the way I’m wired — predisposed towards any excuse to visit a bookshop — or it might have something to do with major bookshop chains in KL stocking stationery.
My second thought was, ‘which bookshop’? There are several to choose from in the KLCC area, but my mind flew to my favorite: Kinokuniya. Now I could wax lexical about this bookshop, but I’ll spare you the reading and simply say — the staff are always lovely and helpful, their collection is good, and they tend to have what I need when I need it. Plus they’re reliable, and the products are always good quality.
When we’re looking for a service or a product we inevitably draw conclusions from things we hear from others, read on the Internet, and experience. We end up asking the question:
- Why this brand?
- Why this company?
- Why this product?
- Why this service?
The real question is a matter of trust:
Do I trust this brand/company/product/service?
Companies and their products/services have to earn trust gradually — and they do it by answering the question we ask ourselves before we buy their products or services: why choose us?
So my question? Why Kinokuniya? The quality of their customer service and their products.
My trust in this brand didn’t happen overnight; it started more than a decade ago when I discovered the store by accident in the Queen Victoria Shopping Mall in Sydney, Australia while on holiday. That day, seeing their collection, and experiencing their great customer service, they began to earn my trust and win me over — now, I consider myself a lifetime customer.
That’s not to say that we can’t fall in love with a brand or product the first time we see it; we can become totally enamored of a service after using it the first time. Some of us may not even be able to answer the ‘why’, but something made us listen when the brand said ‘choose us!’
Why do I prefer PC over Mac, for example — for what I do, I really should be using Macs, but I don’t.
Why Star Trek instead of Star Wars? Or vice versa. I’m sure wars have started for uttering that question out loud.
Of course, what it comes down to is preference and experience. I prefer PCs because I’m used to them and because my experiences with them have been — largely — positive, whereas my experience with Macs is limited and — more or less — littered with frustration (probably because I’m biased towards PCs). I readily accept that both have their pros, but I stubbornly prefer PCs.
And I’m not going to answer the Star Trek vs Star Wars question.
Trust is based on experience: if a company/brand has delivered only positive experiences then the trust level grows. This goes for both products and services — and of course, above and beyond everything: the level of customer service experience.
Let’s admit it: we’re more likely to recommend a product if the sales consultant who sold it to us was smiling and helpful. Similarly, we’re likely to dump a company entirely — and badmouth them on social media! — if we called in and received bad customer service, regardless of the quality of the product or service!
Trust: it’s hard as hell to earn, and easy as pie to break.
It’s not our job to give a company our trust, they’ve got to earn it. They’ve got to answer the question: Why choose us?
For example, if I were trying to convince you to hire AQ Services to help you improve on your customer service experience, I’d say something like:
“We have helped scores of brands improve their front lines across a variety of industries, from the automotive to the retail and hospitality sectors. With more than 15 years of experience in mystery shopping and audits, we have the best tools in the trade to help you improve your business. Why AQ? Because your passion is our passion.”
In fact, I’ve used exactly that for our latest flyers.
In answering the ‘why choose us’, I’ve been honest about what we’re about and the reason why we believe you should choose our service above all of our competitors. I’ve offered you with our big selling points: our 15 years of experience, the industries we’ve helped, our mystery shopping and mystery audit specialty, and — perhaps most importantly — the punchline.
This piece isn’t trying to get you to give me your trust off the bat, it’s about inviting you to let us earn it.
All luxury brands try to answer the ‘why choose us?’ question at some point. KLM answers it by explaining itself here. Companies like the Body Shop have enough of a reputation to get away with not pushing their point too far, and let their history do the talking for them. Other brands try to answer with their entire personality. A good example of this is the Jack Daniel’s website.
If you look closely at any company you’ll find that they’re addressing the ‘why choose us?’ question at every opportunity. It’s what their marketing teams are all about:
- Why our brand?
- Why our company?
- Why our product?
- Why our service?
Why choose us? Because we’re the best.
The trick is for us, as the customers, to make up our own minds about who we really believe.