I hope you are reading this blog in follow on from “Call that Service?!“… if not please have a quick look at that first as this is essentially “part 2″!
What does customer service really mean?
In “Call that service?!” I talked about how the best customer experiences, in the eyes of the customer, happens when the end to end service experience matched their expectation level. By end to end I mean the experience that extends beyond pure interaction with store staff – the customer’s expectation may be that a toy shop should have space for a double buggy, or that a clothing retailer should have all the size colour combinations available. These are still elements of service and should be considered as such because the customer likely won’t differentiate in their emotional response to how they are served face-to-face vs. how well the retailer was able to match their expectations!
Why keeping your service promise matters…
I’d like to recount 3 examples where I think retailers / service providers have got this right.
First of all Easy Jet:
Not a retailer, and not a business associated with great service, and that’s my point and why I wanted to start with them! Easy Jet have made it so explicitly clear that they are not going to give any “extras” that customers are not disappointed by their minimalist approach! Customers are told they get a flight, A 2 B, and they get it cheap because they will not get any of the “fluffy” stuff that they might find to be part of the deal with a higher cost provider. As a consumer you can chose to pay more and get a more luxury experience or pay less and get the basics. Certainly when you fly with easy jet you are not going to be disappointed by much, because they’ve promised nothing more than to transport you on an aircraft from A 2 B meeting the minimum requirements for safety. In fact, if you do get a friendly crew member who helps you with a particular need you’ll probably even be impressed!
Next, The Bread Shop.
Could you ever imagine being delighted about spending £4 on a loaf of bread that’s about £1.20 in the suupermarket bakery? If you consider the price elasticity here you’d probably not. That is where the value of exceptional service and experience comes in.
The bread shop have made a bold move. A small chain of tiny stores selling bread, cakes and pastries, there was no way they could compete on price with the supermarkets. So they compete on service. They have got the positioning right. From their store locations through to the way the product is presented, the whole experience is unique! Add to that a proportion of their retail space dedicated to offering a cafe experience (proper coffee served with you freshly baked pastry so you can enjoy it there and then) and there is no way that the supermarket can compete with them.
In The Bread Shop you pick up your old fashioned basket, collecting your purchases in an inspiring shop filled with wonderful baking aromas and beautiful products that are so well presented they look like they are worth every penny. And there it is – you’re hooked – you’ve probably paid £3 for the pleasure and £1 for the item, but as a customer are you feeling good when you leave? I expect so!
I started my retail career on the McDonalds management training programme and to this day I tell people it was the best all round business training I have ever had! As customers too, we all know they are a good business (regardless of whether we actually like their product), and as a customer you know what you are getting. It is not in question that some stores have better management and as a result deliver faster and more efficient service, never seeming to have an item unavailable. Some are less effective. What is clear is their proposition and customer promise is understood by the millions who buy from them day in day out. In the most part a few lapses are tolerated because they deliver the promise consistently.
What are WOW! Moments in Customer Service?
First of all you should all know about the WOW! In customer service awards – if you don’t then visit http://www.thewowawards.co.uk/ to find out more.
Now I’ll recount my “WOW!”” moment at my local St Albans retail park McDonalds Store. It was a busy lunch time and I was anticipating queues (see blog “Queuing in Retail” ) as well as a wait for my fussy daughter’s bespoke burger! As it turned out there were no queues because the management had sufficient well trained crew on the tills and preparing food in the kitchen. There was no breakdown in service – the guy preparing fries was keeping pace with demand. I watched him. He was calm and collected, probably only about 17 years old! Nonetheless he was matching his production to demand, watching the customer flow, anticipating when to put the next basket of raw fries in to cook! This was proof to me that everyone on that shift has got the customer in mind in all of their actions, they are not just robotically completing a process.
Impressive – the food was hot, freshly prepared and presented well. This is exactly how I’d been trained so very many years ago – and I knew how hard it actually is to achieve to that standard with that level of demand.
So, they’d met my minimum requirements and I was satisfied. What was it that happened that made the difference then?
Simple. They all smiled! They were polite, considerate, predicted our needs and even held the door for us when we left. I felt “special” and valued as a customer. It wasn’t quite Gordon Ramsey’s; but that was about as good a job as McDonalds could do. I was so impressed I tweeted it and I am writing this.
Fact: When you impress and delight your customers they become your advocates.
So that’s it really, if you manage to delight customers look how inclined they are to rave about you… ! If you disappoint them? Well lets just say with access to social media they can share how unhappy they / how bad their experience was with thousands, maybe even millions (if you don’t believe me search for “American Airlines Guitar Song” on YouTube and see what a few disgruntled customers have share with just over 9.5 million others) of potential customers in no time at all! Then you’ve got the task of turning them around to deal with…
Lets hope this won’t happen to your retail business and that some of my ideas on what service is all about will have inspired you! I look forward to reading all your comments and thoughts on this blog!