|Winning Combination Increases Customer Loyalty and Revenues.|
By John Tschohl
Sunday, 6th May 2012
Walk into an Apple Store anywhere, and you will see one of the best and most successful retail operations in the world.
An employee immediately greets you, asks what you need, and enters your name into a handheld device that registers you for the next available assistant.
As you wait your turn, you look at the Apple products laid out throughout the store. Not only do they represent the best in technology, the prices are competitive. Apple is one of the top three companies in the world at using the winning combination of speed, price, and service. It has the highest sales per square foot of any company in the world and is the most valuable company in the world. You would do well to make Apple a role model for your own organization.
Consumers today are busier than at any other time in history. They’re working longer hours, raising families, and tending to a host of other responsibilities and activities. When they need to make a purchase, they want to do it quickly, and they want to get the best price—and service—possible. Are you meeting those needs for your customers?
Amazon.com ranks right up there with Apple, when it comes to giving customers what they want. The financial rewards of doing so are more than a little impressive; Amazon had sales of $41 billion last year, a 41 percent increase over 2010. If you follow the lead of Apple and Amazon, you will attract new customers, increase the loyalty of your current customers, and see your sales skyrocket.
Speed is an incredible marketing tool, but you cannot sacrifice accuracy in the process. You must do whatever you can to give customers what they want, when they want it. When you can do something faster than your competitors, you will win the race for customers.
One of the major roadblocks to speed, as well as to customer service, are the policies and procedures most companies have in place to make sure that 1 percent of their customers don’t take advantage of them. Meanwhile, the other 99 percent of their customers are frustrated.
When you restrict your frontline employees with ridiculous policies and procedures, you not only slow down the process of serving your customers, you can drive them right into the open arms of your competitors. Do whatever is necessary to make it easy for people to do business with you. That includes eliminating policies and procedures that get in the way of providing the best customer experience possible.
Never underestimate the power of price. If you have a premium product, like Apple does, you can charge more, but Apple would not get those prices if it didn’t combine its products with speed and service.
When it comes to price, there are several steps you can take to ensure your prices are competitive. The most important is to eliminate waste and control costs—and then pass those savings on to your customers. How do you do that? Ask your frontline employees for suggestions on ways to improve productivity and cut costs. They’re the experts, and you will be surprised at the ideas they come up with.
People love a great customer experience; that’s how you create customer loyalty. If the service you provide is simply OK, it won’t get you into the game. You must provide service that is so incredible that people are more than happy to give you their business—and their money. You must constantly train your employees in the art of customer service, introducing new training programs every four months in order to keep enthusiasm and skills at a peak.
Speed, price, and customer service are the three fundamentals of a successful business. Make them a priority, and you will increase both your customer base—and your revenues.
John Tschohl, the internationally recognized service strategist, is founder and president of the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Described by USA Today, Time, and Entrepreneur as a “customer service guru,” he has written several books on customer service and has developed more than 26 customer-service training programs that have been distributed throughout the world. John’s monthly strategic newsletter is available online.