Today’s business environment is becoming increasingly complex and competitive due to globalization, new technology, increasing product proliferation, brand erosion, market segmentation, consumer skepticism and time poverty, rendering traditional business plans obsolete. For just about every product or service, there is an overwhelming number of choices to choose from, leaving consumers dazed and confused. So, how can you stand out from a sea of competitors promoting similar offerings? Become known as THE company in your field that provides world-class service.
What is world-class service? It is the talk of many but the reality of few. When a company provides a client with world-class service, it often becomes a legendary experience that the client retells to others in a form of free publicity, which can’t be bought.
What companies come to mind when you think of world-class service? What establishments do you patronize whose service exceeds your expectations on a continual basis? Typically, these are not the places that have the lowest prices. They do not have to … their value is created by elevating the customer experience to a point where paying a premium is not an issue.
First of all, companies should understand the difference between “the product” – the commodity or service being delivered – and “the process” – the method by which that product is delivered. Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle has become world famous for this differentiation. While their product is fish, their word-of-mouth fame was created by the process in which that product is delivered; throwing fish. The product of a doctor is clinical expertise, whereas most people would agree that the process by which that product is delivered (bedside manner) may be just as important. Here’s the point: Your reputation in your field may be created more by the customer experience you deliver than the product or service you sell.
There are six simple actions that will determine your level of customer service (from the customer’s perspective). When a realistic and objective assessment is made in each coupled with systems and strategies to improve (with training), it can result in immediate and transformational changes in your business. They are…
Most service experiences are unremarkable. We tend to remember only those experiences on the extremes of either side. Poor customer service tends to leave consumers frustrated and disappointed. In the restaurant business, there is a famous saying: “You are only as good as your last visit.” An exceptionally long delay in receiving food may be as damaging to a restaurant’s reputation as a bad meal.
Why is it important to create a world-class service culture? Because not only are the products or services in most categories being commoditized by your competitors – where the lowest price wins – but more and more often the service component is playing a greater role in your customers’ buying decision. For example, if you look in the Yellow Pages under “Automobile Repair and Service”, you will find pages of ads with every company communicating basically the same message. Since most people don’t truly understand what is being done underneath the hood, their loyalties lie with the way they are greeted, on the phone or first meeting, and the way they are treated.
And finally, when talking about world-class service, it all comes down to people. When asked, “Why everyone working at Disney seemed so happy…”, Michael Eisner replied, “Easy … we don’t hire grumpy people.” Robert Spector, author of “The Nordstrom Way”, relays that Bruce Nordstrom’s hiring philosophy was to “hire the smile and train the skill,” noting that he could teach anyone to sell shoes, but he couldn’t teach everyone to smile. If you look at the organizations that provide world-class service, you will usually find they hire the best people and then provide a supportive culture where those employees can flourish.
Now is the time to stand up and provide a wow factor that will create satisfied customers for life.
About the author:
Michael Guld is an author, speaker, entrepreneur and radio commentator whose business development expertise lies in increasing performance, exposure and employee productivity, and creating a world-class service experience. He is the president of The Guld Resource Group and creator of “Talking Business with Michael Guld”, airing on Central Virginia’s Public Radio. He can be reached at 804-360-3122 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.