It goes beyond "customer service."

How do you stand out in today’s fast-paced world of similarity?

First, define who you are and what you do or can do that’s different.

About 80 percent of businesses cite customer service as the one thing that sets them apart from competitors. If four out of five businesses all claim customer service, that can’t be unique. The other 20 percent don’t know what makes them different. So dig a little deeper to figure it out, says Scott McKain, keynote speaker at the American Gem Society Conclave last year and author of three Amazon.com No. 1 business best-sellers.

McKain suggests following these four cornerstones of distinction:

First, develop a clarity statement that you can recite in about six seconds. You cannot differentiate what you cannot define. Be precise about what you are but exact about what you are not. Too many retailers want to be all things to all people.

Second, be creative. Find one specific thing in your business that clearly sets you apart. (Example: Enterprise: We pick you up!). Put together a list of every point of contact you have with your customers and concentrate on one of those points.

Third, work on communication and recognize that different generations communicate differently.

Fourth, think about narrative. Write a compelling story about how a customer improved his or her life as a result of your efforts.

Make the customer the hero of the story and make sure that story gets told.

Remember to convey this information to your staff. McKain says studies have shown that 70 percent of a business’s staff can’t explain what makes your business a superior choice over the competition.

Sometimes marketing has to start at home.

Finally, ask yourself, “What is the ultimate experience that a customer could have? What would happen if everything went exactly right? And what specific steps do we need to execute to make it work out that way? How do we empower our team to deliver the experience?” Obsess over making it easier to do business with you.

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