Let me get straight to the point here. Every business decides just how happy its customers will be. If a business decides to do everything in its power to make and keep its customers ecstatically happy, then that’s what will happen. If the decision is to do just enough to keep people coming through the door, then customers will be neutral when they visit. If the decision is rooted in disdain, the result will be disgusted customers, in rapidly declining numbers.
Lip service towards service and the spotty customer experience that goes along with it, are no longer part of the customer’s equation for delivering repeat business. Big effort is the new influencer of open wallets. Customers want a stand-out experience and now is the time for businesses to “go big” to achieve traction with customers. Just for the record, “going big” does not mean overhauling the entire operation.
“Lip service towards service and the spotty customer experience that goes along with it, are no longer part of the customer’s equation for delivering repeat business.”
Now, there are some businesses out there, I imagine, that can do with a supreme overhaul, but let’s leave that discourse for another column. “Going big” simply means businesses committing to making radical changes to their service delivery quality and, here’s the kicker, “sticking to the changes.”
I was speaking with a friend recently and she was recounting her disappointment at not being acknowledged for fifteen minutes during a visit to a company and this was whilst service personnel kept walking past her, unconcerned that there was someone awaiting attention. She had decided to wait patiently, because she saw chairs in the waiting area, no receptionist and thought that someone would take the lead and offer to assist. She expected that some level of courtesy would be extended automatically. Bless her heart.
So, let me build on my “go big” point. The starting point for a business that is serious about its customer happiness rating, is being consistent with whatever standard is chosen as a defining feature for which the business wants to be known. If simply saying “good morning or good afternoon” to all customers, wherever they are encountered on the premises, is the chosen impact feature, then the entire business should be wired around that feature. This means that it becomes an integral part of the business culture and everyone will be held to this standard. “Go big” with the greeting, put a big effort in and scale it across the business.
“The starting point for a business that is serious about its customer happiness rating, is being consistent with whatever standard is chosen as a defining feature for which the business wants to be known.”
Similarly, if the business wants to be known for ease of doing business, then this should generate the understanding that all high customer contact processes will have to be overhauled and pruned. If many of the processes that drive the business are weighty, cumbersome and retard the delivery of swift solutions, then conversations about automation, digitization and digitalization, will need to start at the leadership level, to “go big” with ease of doing business.
We have worked with clients that have decided to start at a modest level with their service improvement ambitions. One client started with a simple decision to ensure that every customer driving into the car park, would be guaranteed a parking spot. Now, this may sound like nothing special and it would be, if the car park had not been the size of a standard bathtub and had to accommodate staff parking, as well. Our client, having made the decision to put the customer first, decided to “go big” and relocated staff parking, reassigned extra security to the car park (they were well trained in car park courtesy, of course) and created a well-managed queueing system for drivers. In an often neglected point of contact, the car park, this client “went big.”
“A business with limited resources can improve its service delivery, by simply focussing on one feature at a time, by “going big” and nailing consistency.”
There are so many benefits to picking one customer experience impact feature and “going big” with it. The first benefit to “going big” is that it shows up process inefficiencies and points to where transaction fixes are needed. Secondly, it rivets the entire business around a single feature or point of reference, which, if buttressed by standards and reinforcement of behaviours, will promote standardization and consistency in institutionalizing the feature. Thirdly, a business with limited resources can improve its service delivery, by simply focussing on one feature at a time, by “going big” and nailing consistency.
Whilst the “going big,” and one feature at a time, does yield fruit and offers a level of manageability, it amounts to a series of small wins, stretched over a long period. The downside is that today’s customers are hardly inclined to sit around waiting for the fully loaded experience.
To the businesses that are not thin on resources and blessed with the ambition to succeed at keeping customers happy, I think that a cohesive strategy, coupled with a “going big” plan will deliver an even bigger win.
Why? Because the big effort often wins.