If delivery is the product, whether that be a physical object or a professional skill, then service is the vehicle that provides it. Service defines business. It is how our customers, clients and guests attach real-time value. The key component that sets us apart from our competitors. Typically business will focus on product and blend wholesale price, utilities and labour costs to match competitors. Then they will squeeze everything into stylish branding.
With the substantial investment thrown at public image it is no wonder that clients and customers are easily dissatisfied with their buying experience. Yet for those who customise their vehicle of service into something unique and spectacular, the rewards can be both far reaching and considerable.
The formula of ‘want’ and ‘need’
I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. I was in the restaurant up to my elbows in a prep list big enough to cover the weekend off. It was a Friday morning just after 9am. The guest was in a frantic state. He wanted a table reserved for the evening. He had forgotten his wedding anniversary and was desperate to spoil his wife but also knew how busy we were at week-ends. We are his wife’s favourite restaurant. Could I help him?
I scour the reservations and reassure him that with a bit of juggling I can sort it. He goes from terrified to relieved. I will call him back in two hours to confirm. I put the phone down and focus on arranging flowers and champagne and something special for dessert. I phone him back at the arranged time. In a calm voice he says how grateful he is. He has had time to think and asks if I can arrange flowers and champagne. Question – should a guest or a client have to ask a professional to be considerate?
Anticipation or incarceration?
I had a call from my bank’s fraud division, specialists at electronic surveillance and bank security. My bank card had been hacked and my account suspended. Grateful that the funds are secure the concern I have is that I have weeks of work overseas coming up. I am financially stranded. I ask if the fraud division can offer suggestions or an alternative, they say no! I will have to wait a week for the new card to arrive in the post. I am distraught. Cancelling clients is against everything I stand for. I am now desperately trying to remember the workshop on conflict management.
After hours of searching online I discover android and apple pay. I call the bank back – could they call me with the new card number? I could then pay using my phone as a contactless point. They say it sounds like a good idea as they will have the new number in a day or so.
I’ve also discovered that I can use the Western Union app to transfer cash directly through currency exchange offices – found everywhere. The technological edge of a modern-day fraud division again confirm that it is a great idea. Would you call this ‘helpful banking’? Does your knowledge anticipate your client’s requirements, or does the lack of it incarcerate them?
Just another line.
In every aspect of business, how we present our service is the impact we make on our share of the market place. It is how brands are identified and valued. It is the opportunity that a client presents to us that will be our greatest marketing promotion.
And most people know how to wield the power of social media. Going ‘viral’ has huge possibilities. Embracing it can encourage an unlimited supply of free marketing. An opportunity to use creativity from a sphere of customer loyalty. Whereas businesses throw vast sums at advertising, savvy clients can use their immense networks to neutralise and ridicule these expensive efforts.
Is it truly customers first, understanding needs and wants? Is your business polishing reputation on the badge of branding? Do you sincerely believe that service should exceed expectations? Or is your slogan just another line – to proudly promote or to be used as a punchline?