Saturday, February 19, 2011

Box of Chocolates or Unpleasant Surprises?

“Life is like a box of never know what you're gonna get.", said Forrest Gump.  While I certainly admire Mr. Gump's positive outlook, when it comes to customer service however, there is perhaps another saying that is more apt.  That is "Better the devil you know, then the devil you don't."

Nothing upsets customers more then receiving inconsistent service, never knowing what they're going to get.  While occasional unexpected pleasant surprises are nice, overall though, it's far better to provide consistent and predictable service.  


Case in point.  My wife and I run long distances over the weekends.  Given the times involved, naturally we have to make pit stops along the way.  On some of the "trails", along the way are 7-11s which also serve as a nice rest areas.  But that's when it all changes.  


Some have facilities for public use, some don't; some have them placed such that they are openly and easily accessible and some in the back hidden; some allow customers to use their facilities, others don't; some allow you to use their facilities regardless of placement (out in the open or in the back somewhere), others require you to first seek permission from the staff (talk about feeling as if I am back in kindergarten).  You just never know what you're gonna find. Depending on the situation, what otherwise is no bid deal can turn into a painful experience. 


I would think for a national chain such as 7-11, it would provide a consistent experience, regardless of location.  This is where chains such as McDonald's shine for no matter where you go, the offerings and service are consistent. But even if you're not a chain, it's still important to be consistent, boringly predictable even for there is great comfort in that.


So, how consistent are you in the service you provide to your customers?  Can they depend on you completely, or are they never really sure what they will receive at any given time?  If the later, what actions can you start to take to provide more consistent dependable experiences?  


Joelsef said...

That is tough. How do such large businesses, with local managers who may vary in skills and motivation, keep things consistent? I say the larger the company, the more inconsistent the experience will become at the local level.

Vinay Kumar said...

You make a good point Joel. It is indeed not easy. Recognizinig that, if we're aware of it at least, then we're more likley to achieve it. Everything begins with a thought, an idea. And if we come from the place of trying to achieve it, rather then not even trying, we're more likely to achieve it.

Joelsef said...

Excellent point. You can tell which companies are trying hard and which are not trying very much.

I'm all for growth, progress, and efficiencies, but I also think that really effective companies, especially service companies, do better at smaller scale. When they get too big, even if they can be made consistent and customer friendly, they just don't have the same personal touch as a company that is locally or regionally owned.

Vinay Kumar said...

Agree completely. Still there are larger companies who do a pretty good job given their size. Think Ritz, McDonalds, Apple, Nordstrom. Disney...all large and they all have a service mindset. It all starts with thought, mindset.