Bells & Whistles

Gavin GriffithsWhen Virgin Business class launched, Richard Branson made the ground-breaking step of introducing a free pick up for business class customers from their home. Branson realised that the core business class offering to London was the same experience on any airline. The same airport, the same planes, the same transit time, the same arrival point. What differentiated you was what you could add to the mix to make customers switch to you and stay with you.

So, in the lucrative business market it was a car to collect you, a luxurious pre-flight lounge, an awesome toilet bag, chirpy stewardesses, gourmet dining that you could order when you liked, an impressive wine cellar, quicker boarding and disembarking and a car the other side.

And it wasn’t just that the punters loved it. They talked about it. When my turn came to fly business class I went with Virgin, not because I saw an advert, but because my mate Julian raved about getting picked up in a Range Rover.

Your core offering is the same as everyone else. What elevates your offering above your competitors and gets people coming back and talking about you? In a crowded market what’s going to give you the edge?

Here is a list of some of the things we’ve seen our clients do:

  • A taxi to collect your clients (cosmetic surgery clients with high margins)
  • Flowers on their return home
  • A birthday card (not an email!)
  • Follow up consultations at one month, six months, then annually
  • Tie up with a local nail bar and give a free nail session
  • Friends and family discount vouchers
  • An annual skin analysis free of charge for repeat customers (or any treatment that has a low cost point)

We recently designed branded toilet bags for a group of cosmetic surgeons we work with for them to give to their patients when they arrive at hospital. It contains all the necessary post-procedure information, but also full of nice smelly stuff and useful bits and pieces which will make their stay in hospital more pleasant. So far, their patients have raved about it – hopefully they’ll rave about it to others as well.

Some of these won’t be relevant to you or your price point won’t allow the margin to undertake all this but here’s what I would do today. Find a quiet half an hour and get your team assembled. Give everyone a nice strong cup of coffee to get the brain operating on a higher, more excitable level, and get everyone to write down five bells & whistles.

Start thinking about little things that when added to your great service make you a cut above the rest. Make your customers love you. Make them talk about you.