Friday, July 17, 2009


What qualifies you to provide the product or service you offer? Do you have a natural talent, years of experience, a degree, or certification to provide a specific service? Having a degree or certification can give you confidence and needed training, but what do customers respond to? I think it depends on whether you are offering a product (something tangible) or a service. Whether you are providing a product or service, word of mouth, reputation, integrity, and a strong network are vitally important. But trust is even more important if you are providing a service. You might provide a limited "free" product or service, but the customer still needs to trust you as a person. In his book, "Free," Chris Anderson discusses the virtues of offering something for free. His book is even available "free" on iTunes. Giving something free works best if you have a product people can see and touch. A free service is only as valuable as the person offering it.

I have degrees, certifications, and qualifications, but in my business trust is most important. Certifications are only as valuable as the organizations that provide them. Your customer needs to know the qualifications of the provider, how the certification is relevant to the service being provided, and what kind of training you received to get the certification. A formal education is easier for a customer to understand if they respect the institution that offered the degree. Natural talent is harder to quantify, but it is at least as important as formal training. Testimonials provide some verification for experiential qualifications, but there is often no way to verify their validity.

What credentials do you find most useful in your business? Whether you own a business or work for someone else, you have methods for identifying your expertise. A job seeker might use a cover letter and resume, while an entrepreneur would use business cards, brochures, and a business plan to show off their credentials. Often face-to-face contact and word of mouth show your customer your integrity better than the papers your credentials are written on. Whenever possible I hand a card, brochure, or sample product to a person so they will remember who I am and what I can do for them. Social networking and blogging can also tell your customers a lot about who you are as a person and help them feel connected to you on an ongoing basis.

This website is intended for informational purposes only. Comments are open to the public and not endorsed by the author. For career advise, coaching, or counseling, please seek out a professional who can meet your personal needs.

Nancy Miller, M.S., Career Management Consultant
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