The statistics behind starting and succeeding with your business are staggering. Everybody who wants to take the plunge and to commit to successfully operating a profitable enterprise knows two things as the premise for long-term success: You must find customers to whom you offer your products or services that provide value (so they will give you money for them). And, you must satisfy your customers. In difficult economic environments – like the one in which we find ourselves today – we have a rare opportunity to succeed. However, we have strong opposing winds we must conquer.
(That's not the thing)
One of those winds is the lack of service orientation. In times of great despair, people ache for a sense of belonging, a feeling of coming home. It often is a need that functions subconsciously. It’s those businesses that thrive, who know that people only buy from people. They flourish even more if they know that people (almost) always buy from people they also like. However, most businesses don’t operate on that premise. The lack of service orientation becomes detrimental to positive business decisions if service is the very thing the company sells.
In preparation for our small wedding, my fiancé and I are on the search for an appropriate restaurant that suits our taste buds and also matches what our families and friends like. Recently, we went to one of the restaurants on that list. In fact, after eliminating two alternatives, we’ve named it our favorite. So we decided to have dinner there, again, and use that occasion to book a table for the twenty people. The downfall began.
The lady behind the counter was perplexed by our attempt to make a reservation just to then learn that their software didn’t allow bookings five months ahead. She then asked us to email our request. After we followed through, we then got an answer with all the restrictions they head: they could only have eight people seated on one table; if we stay longer than 2,5 hours each person needs to eat or drink for at least X €…
Never when we stayed there were all table being served – there was plenty of room even on Friday and Saturday evenings. We were slightly irritated by that response. Now, maybe we were overreacting here, so we asked whether we could meet to talk about the details (twice, we suggested that already in the first email). The answer was in the form of the question when we would like to come so they could inform somebody there to talk to us.
Now, if they played their cards right, they could have gotten birthday parties, recommendations for business dinners, seminar attendees for lunches, even a potential large wedding party would have been in the pipeline this instance.
What went wrong? There was no kindness, no nice word, no compliment, not even a “thank you for choosing us” or “we are glad to have you celebrate with us.” At one point we were even just greeted with “hello” in the email with no names. All those little things added up to something I can only describe as the feeling of not being welcome there. So, we scratched that restaurant from our list. Our craving for being appreciated and valued was not satisfied – and so we went on seeking for a business that fulfills it.
This may happen once, twice, and maybe three times. That’s when the papers write about new management.
To think that customers can be happy, they are getting served at all – that’s the mindset and culture of the failing business. It’s inexcusable to think that customers and clients should be happy because nobody can deliver great products or services these days due to lacking resources, not enough people, the bad economy. By the way, these reasons don’t change, just the usage frequency.
Here are three questions that help us to escape the lack of service orientation:
How can we provide the best customer experience? If we stood in our customer’s shoes, what would make our life easier and better? Finally, how can we improve our service?
Those are value-generating questions.
About the Author
Marc Breetzke, M.A., M.A., founder of MB INSPIRATIONS, is leading expert on strategic thinking, communication, and leadership. Since 2013, Marc assists companies, organisations, and individuals worldwide to achieve their objectives, increase their performance, and realize their untapped potential. Marc has helped thousands of people in consulting and training projects. Currently, he lives in Stuttgart, Germany.