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A Thing

Article published in Issue Number: 070202

Becoming the brand of choice

Water Cooler Wisdom

An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

- Elbert Hubbard

Water Cooler Quotes Archive

We all have favorite brands. For some people, Coke is the only soft drink. For others, nothing beats Dr Pepper. Some folks wouldn't dream of putting anything but Philadelphia cream cheese on bagels; others prefer them topped with butter and Smucker's jam.

For brand-loyal customers, price doesn't matter. Certain products are their favorites, always have been, always will be.

Can you, as an ISO or merchant level salesperson, create brand loyalty within your merchant base? Can doing business with you become so desirable that using another agent or ISO never occurs to your customers, regardless of price or market conditions?

Sure - if you find ways to stand out from the crowd. There are two ways to differentiate yourself:

  1. Provide a product or service that your competitors do not provide.
  2. Do a better job of providing a product or service that others also provide.

Look in the mirror

Skeptical? Look at your own habits.

Here's an example: If you travel for business, you know the importance of having comfy accommodations while on the road.

And most of us are creatures of habit. We don't like to be surprised after a long day of work and travel. So, we tend to frequent familiar establishments that have already served us well.

If you are like most business travelers, your favorite hotels and restaurants are not the most expensive or the most glamorous.

They are not the least expensive either. They are most likely the places that offer something that the others don't. Or, they do a better job of providing a service their competitors also offer.

Perhaps you frequent a hotel because it offers free fax and copying services to its guests. These small tasks are inexpensive for the hotel to provide, but they can mean a lot to a traveler who doesn't have the time to locate and travel to a reliable copy shop.

A hotel could top your list because it offers something as basic as complimentary breakfast in the lobby. The eggs don't have to be made to order; the coffee doesn't have to be organic. The fact that the meal is free, hot and ready might be enough to cement a lasting business relationship.

These are simple actions a hotel can take to earn repeat business. They are not extravagant. Even small amenities can be enough to lure customers back.

If a service is needed and convenient, customers will try it. If they have a good experience, they are likely to use it again. Soon the service becomes a familiar standby. And its provider becomes the customers' preferred option.

Ask the experts

So, how do you become your merchants' brand of choice? There is no single answer. Each customer is unique. However, you can find answers: Consult your merchants. They are the best source of information about what is most helpful to them.

Analyze your sales data to identify your most popular product or service. Find out what makes it so compelling. Ask your clients:

  • What they appreciate about your services, and why
  • What they would like to see improved
  • What their pet peeves are when it comes to merchant services
  • What's on their POS, bankcard processing and overall business wish list.

Use this information to devise new ways to serve your merchants or create entirely new programs. Then, ask your customers for feedback.

Do this. Do this often. Do this well. And you'll never need worry about being second-fiddle or Brand X. You'll be your merchants' premier provider.

Article published in issue number 070202

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