I often get asked so what makes your agency different from your competitors? Most marketing gurus would say you have to prepare your elevator pitch i.e. your 60 minutes sales pitch where you highlight your USP (unique selling prepositions). And the funny thing is many companies tell you that, "We differentiate ourselves by our excellent customer service!" Unfortunately, unless you are in the hotel business, “it is your product that makes the difference i.e. the service provided is great, but you do not seem to be getting closer to your objective, you are not going to be happy. So today I would like to share with you, from an agency's point of view what you should be looking out for while choosing a dating service.
Prior to anything, you should do your research. Yes, research is the key to success here. Flip your local newspapers to find out what are the various companies available in your city. Ask your friends and colleagues if they have heard of any credible ones. And the Internet is your best source of referral. I personally like using Google. Just google the word "dating service" or "dating agency" and I am sure you will have a long list. After you have your list, tabulate them on an excel sheet, or in a word document if you like. For each agency, you will be rating them on a few things(1) their reputation,(2) how they sound over the phone,(3) how much the service costs, and(4) how you feel during the consultation with them.Before even making the first phone call, you really should check out their reputation. How to accomplish that? Easy! Yes, the Internet is a great source. You could search key words such as the company's name, the founder's name(s), or even check out whether they have any complaints posted online e.g. checking with consumers' bureau. Check out forums, or casually ask your friends whether they have heard of that particular agency and see what they have to say. If you have friends who have joined a dating service, ask for their opinions on the frequency and quality of the dates. Do not base your choice on only one person's recommendation, ask around to get a few opinions.
Making your First Enquiry
Ok, now you have a gauge of the reputation and credibility of the companies you are interested in, it'time to contact them. You could usually contact them through phone or through their online enquiry form. Personally, I prefer to do the latter. The reason being I would like to see how professional (or not) they are.
- A professional company should get back to you within 2 working days.
- A professional company which prides itself in customer service would firstly verify that you are the enquirer before telling you where he/she is calling from.
- A professional dating consultant would also ask you within the first 5 seconds whether it is a convenient time for you to talk.
- Is the consultant organized when it comes to presenting you information about the company? The professionalism of the consultants would also reflect how systematic the company would be when it comes to providing dating services.
- Does the consultant sound pushy? When you said that you would require some time to think about it, does he/she insist that you drop by? The line here is quite thin. You do not want to join a dating service who does not seem concerned about sales at all, as at the end of the day, you are looking for a company that has a huge database, and looking to increase that database everyday. Yet at the same time, you do not want to join a company whose only purpose is to sell and full stop.
Scheduling an appointment
At some point during the call, the consultant would want to schedule with you an appointment. A professional company would inform you that the appointment is no-obligations, no strings attached, and you do not need to pay for the initial consultation. A well-organized company should have a system that sends you an email to confirm the details of the appointment, as well as a reminder phone call prior to the appointment. If you are planning to check out more than one agency, make sure that your appointments are not scheduled back-to-back, so that you have time after each appointment to jot down some thoughts of what you feel about each agency. However, do not space your appointments too far apart as well, because remember, your objective is to find a dating agency; you do not want to lose all enthusiasm due to the dragged-out process.
So what do you do while waiting for your appointments, think of the questions you would like to ask. These are some of the standard questions that you should prepare to ask during a consultation:
How do you match?
What is your success rate?
How long have you been established, and how many members do you have?
How many consultants do you have?
If you have x number of members, and you only have xxx consultants, how do you ensure that I get xx date every month?
How much does it cost to be a member?
Do you have a refund policy?
Do you have any overseas offices, and is your membership transferable between cities?
During the consultation, take note of the location of the dating agency. The location reflects how the company would wish to position itself, as well as the type of people the company is trying to attract.How were you greeted at the door? How were the consultants dressed? How was the office done up? Were you offered a drink? All these should sum up your first impression of the company.Was the consultant more concerned about what you are looking for or more concerned about what they were trying to sell you? How were the questionnaires/forms organized? If all they ask you to fill up is a 2 pages form, how confident you are they would be able to make a good match with such little information? Apart from the questionnaire, did they ask you any other questions? Were the questions well thought out to find out more about you? How comfortable do you feel with the consultant?
What to Expect
Most dating agencies provide the following services through your membership: (1) No-obligations Consultation (2) Matching (3) Coordination of dates availability (4) Booking of restaurant (5) Feedback However the level of service differs. Some agencies only communicate through the phone; some agencies have gone the extra mile of using emails and SMS (Short Message Service) for easier and faster communication. Some agencies take the initiative to contact you for your feedback after each date; some agencies leave it to your initiation. Some agencies call/SMS you to remind you of your date a day before; some don't. Some agencies are opened on Saturdays for better date coordinations; others don't. Some agencies have a date review after a certain number of dates to give you a better idea of how you can improve on your dating skills; others don't. Some agencies have a refund policy; others don't. Hence, it is very important for you to read through your Terms of Service agreement before signing up with your chosen agency.
Ok, let's talk about the no-no's. A reputable and professional company would not pluck names out of the sky and say "Oh, with your preferences, I just know the girl for you. Lily is just perfect for you. She's attractive and intelligent. Oh, and there's Amelia. I think she would make a great choice for you too. She is slim and petite and she's really chatty and a whale of fun to be with." Well firstly, the company really should not be telling you about the profiles of their clients when you have not signed up with them. Also, isn't that over-promising? What if by the time you sign up with them, both Lily and Amelia have already put their membership on hold? And offering you to look at the profiles of the members they have, would you like to be featured in a catalogue, and be chosen like cattle? And yes, photographs. Would you want your photograph be shown to someone has not even signed up with an agency, someone who might not even sign up? And now this someone knows that you have signed up with an agency? Not a very pleasant thought is it? Watch out for agencies that over-promise. One of the good starting point to look out for are the advertisements and marketing campaigns run by the company.Yes, we all love to hear nice things i.e. I am sure you will find your special someone in no time if you sign up with us. Or I can promise you a date every month. In this business, there' s no guarantee. And the best is if you could choose an agency that's reasonable and is willing to work together with you as a partner to achieve your objectives. A professionalcompany would also respect that you would need time to think about it. I know of companies who actually direct their clients to the nearest ATM station so that they could make sure the client pay on that day itself, so that you would not have time to change your mind.
What about the cost? As consumers, we sometimes have the perception that the more expensive a product or service is, the better it must be. Well, I would say, in the case of a dating service that might not be true at all. Think about it this way, if you are a lady looking to sign up with a dating service, you might be attracted to the most expensive agency because your perception would beâ€¦ the men who join (since they are willing to pay such a huge amount) must be of good caliber! My experience tells me that menare more price sensitive than women when it comes to services especially dating services. With this knowledge, how convinced are you now that these expensive dating services actually do have the number of men that they boast they have.Hence, it's best if you do not choose solely based on price of the packages. If an agency can provide you the same level of service, if not a more extensive range of services at a lower cost, wouldn't that be better? Also, a dating service of integrity would charge a price range that's justifiable and not overcharge in the name of "prestige".
By now, you should have a pretty clear idea of which is the dating service for you. There's no right or wrong. Your friend might have joined Agency A, but after your personal evaluation, you might prefer Agency B. However, do keep in mind, at the end of the day – after doing your research, meeting up with various dating consultants, making your comparisons, finding the right partner still has a lot to do with the individual… you. You can have the best consultants, the most beautiful office, or the most quality database, “are you ready to be in a relationship? From the way I see it, only 30% of your success should be attributed to the agency, but the other 70% is really up to the 'dater'.
All the best and happy dating! 🙂