Why, you ask? Because there are a few things you need to know about companies today - and those few things will change the way you think about doing business. Actually, they'll probably change who you do business with.
So read this, and then stop accepting anything less than the best. Now let's get started...
You've heard the Three Cs before:
These are the words you hear again and again when companies want your business, and these are the words you've been trained to look at when choosing a winner. It's because companies know that you want to make sure all the bases are covered before you buy, and listing off these words is a quick, easy way for a company to make it look like it has all the boxes checked.
"Low costs every day."
"Credible Practices: We're Accredited by the Better Business Bureau."
"24/7 Customer Service Support Available."
Sound familiar? The problem with statements like these is that they really don't provide you with any meaningful information; they look appealing at a glance, but they lack just enough specific information to make it easy for a company to avoid accountability.
In other words, any company can tell you these things without really having to mean them or follow through.
Think about the statements up above for a moment: Lower costs than who? How was that accreditation awarded - was it earned or simply paid for? Do the representatives on that 24-hour customer service hotline have the authority to issue a refund or upgrade your account, or will you have to call back during business hours to really get anything done?
Meaningful information is everything. Quality shouldn't be sacrificed to lower the price, genuine credibility can't be bought and customer service is useless unless it solves your problem.
So forget the Cs. They're misleading. Instead, focus on the new - no, better - way of doing business in today's marketplace: the VIP commitment.
Before you sign another contract or make another big purchase, think about the phrase "VIP," as in:
How are these exponentially better than the Three Cs? Let's break it down.
First, value trumps cost every time.
You've heard the phrase "you get what you pay for," right? Well, you also get what you look for. If you're just looking for the absolute lowest number, you can find it. But is that really all you want? Will you take the lowest number if it means that your new home security system will break repeatedly, won't come with a warranty or you'll be locked into a 3-year contract? Didn't think so.
Next time, don't just look at the price tag; get the best bang for your buck by checking into factors that show you're making a valuable purchase. This includes things like guarantees, warranties, cancellation policies, refund policies and whether maintenance is included. A VIP company won't just offer low prices - it will also offer high value.
Another point to consider: integrity is more meaningful than credibility.
Credibility is the quality of being convincing or believable - while integrity is being honest and having strong moral principles. In other words, credibility is just a promise, while integrity is the follow-through of that promise - it's a promise put into action.
So, given the choice, which kind of company would you choose to do business with? Would you rather do business based on promises, or based on fair and honest actions?
The fact is, any business can give the appearance of credibility without actually following credible practices. Many companies will disguise their mediocre products and services by proudly displaying accreditations or seals that show off their "A Rating," deem them "The Best" or remind you that "Satisfaction is Guaranteed." However, just like those commonly-seen phrases up above, statements like these don't necessarily indicate that a company is quality. After all, any company can say that it's the best (that's why we rank them for you!). Remember, though, that promises of excellence are meaningless if the products or services that come with them aren't in fact excellent.
So put your integrity sensor into use the next time you're working with a company. Does the representative return your call when she says she will? Is the mistake on your billing statement adjusted in a timely manner and without hassle? Is your new home solar system lowering your electricity bill the promised 15%? If a company isn't backing up its promises, it may be time to switch to another, better company.
Finally, the third part of VIP: personal solutions. You've wasted a half hour on the phone before with a customer service representative who seems to be reading off a script and does nothing to solve your problems, right? That's because only personal solutions eliminate your problems; customer service doesn't.
Customer service is a generic term that companies use to let you know that there are people you can talk to or responses you can online find if you have a question, problem or gripe. But remember that just because you reach customer service doesn't mean you'll get what you want: a solution.
If you're thinking about signing a contract, ask the following questions. Do customer service representatives have the ability to solve your problems by correcting or changing your account, issuing refunds or scheduling maintenance? If your problem will take multiple phone calls or emails, will you be able to work with the same representative who is familiar with your account - or will you be forced to start over the conversation each time you connect with someone in customer service? In other words, will you have access to real solutions, or just customer service representatives?
Before you do business with another company, toss out the antiquated idea of the Three Cs and remember the phrase "VIP." This will remind you what to look for and what questions to ask so you can make sure you're doing business with only the best. Don't let another company pull the wool over your eyes by using generic messaging, buzz words or empty promises.
Now go forth; choose wiser, stretch your money farther and get treated better. Remember, a company that is truly VIP will also treat you like one.
Do you have a great VIP story? Tell us about a company that you enjoy doing business with: Why is it so great? What does it offer that other companies don't? How would you rank it?