Exceeding the Customers Expectations - NOT

How many times have you heard a Manager tell staff that the company is all about exceeding expectations. Board set this axiom in Mission statements, Marketing Managers espouse it in advertising, and staff even share the philosophy with customers. However....

Imagine you order a pizza for home delivery. The order taker says it will be delivered in 20 minutes, so you take a shower whilst looking forward to eating your pizza during your favourite TV show, also due to start in 20 minutes.

Half way through your shower the doorbell rings. Your turn the shower off, wrap a towel, and drip a trail of water all over the floor to answer the doorbell. To your surprise, it's the pizza delivery.

The delivery driver is standing there with a big proud smile and says, we thought you may like the pizza a little quicker than promised.

You obviously don't have any money in your towel, so you create another trail of water to get your money, and back again. Your frustration spills over because you have to resart the shower and deal with a pizza sitting in the house going cold.

As a customer, these instances are repeated time and time again. The point is simple, don't exceed a customers expectations, simply meet them, and meet them consistently.

Anti Service


How do you get what you want by giving people what they want!

This can be summarised in one word, service.

Companies have different levels of service, being:

* Integrated Service
* Embraced Service
* Forced Service
* Accidental Service, and
* Anti-Service

Have you ever had service which was so bad that it felt like the opposite of good service? I call that Anti-Service.

I have played soccer since I was four. I know Anti- Service in a competitive arena. I try as hard as I can NOT to serve the competition by defending my goal. I do my best to STOP them.

In business we do the same, we defend and try to beat the competition.

Sometimes we have the same competitiveness and Anti-Service towards people in our own organisation. We see this often when two car salesmen rush towards us in a car yard trying to sell the same car, or two middle managers fighting for one promotion.

We also see it in our interactions with customers. A customer may require time for a transaction but the staff member is encouraged to do the opposite. You will this in call centres where the staff are encouraged to complete calls as quickly as possible. Bank Tellers are the same. Even airlines are in the act by cycling the time between takeoff and landing as quickly as possible. Bulk-bill Doctors are infamous for quick turnarounds. The customer may require more time but the staff member is encouraged to do the opposite.

At other times Anti-Service does not result from an inability to deliver but arises when a company is overly self assured of their importance. They project the attitude that they have the best product and customers are privileged to deal with them. This is also the case in monopolies such as government services, or duopolies such as airlines or utilities.

Ten quick solutions:

1) Prepare the customer expectation (cheap prices come from speedy turnaround)
2) Give customers a release valve to opt into a more appropriate service
3) Be careful not to chastise staff for poor service. (It's not always their fault, it could be your strategy)
4) Prepare staff for the expected complaints
5) Support the staff in times of service difficulty
6) Measure your service to determine whether Anti- Service is isolated
7) Make a conscious decision whether improving service is important
8) Encourage accidental service variations
9) Embrace service through initiatives and rewards.
10)Connect your service with your company Purpose (the ultimate service and the ultimate fix)

More on these in future editions.

Cross selling is not an insult

Many clients explain that staff have a mental block when it comes to cross selling. They used to think service was about cuddling the customer with "How's your father" type discussions.

While this may still be true, customers now expect to be cross sold. We recently conducted a survey of 485 shoppers and asked the following:

How do you feel about up-selling where you are asked if you would like to buy a bigger version or complimentary product?

The answers were surprising!

5% said they would be insulted
14% are neutral
56% accept it as part of retailing
25% are glad to be given the opportunity

We also regularly correlate Mystery Shopping scores to shopper satisfaction.  The results are clear. High Mystery Shop scores correlate to high satisfaction scores.  Most Mystery Shopping questionnaires include a section on closing the sale and/or cross selling.

So the data shows that customers are more satisfied when staff sell.  Don't be so presumptuous as to know what the customer wants.  Our job is to offer, and for the customer to decide - but give them a chance to decide to buy.

When you talk to your staff about cross selling, share these statistics.

Often the customer is happy to hear about the offer. You are not doing them a disservice, but doing them a favour.


Different levels of service

We have been on strategic retreats, done all the right things, the MBA checklist is ticked off, and yet, the company, department, or as individuals we veer off track. It seems to happen every year.

Problem: The company does not seem to have traction and keeps veering off course.

I am interested in helping companies, and people (individuals) move beyond ‘the vision thing’ to answer the fundamental questions of why it cannot cope with the road ahead. Essentially it comes down to examining how the company interacts with the outside world. This interaction is known as delivery, a.k.a. service.

We will look at the problems, the causes, and how to diagnose them, and some solutions.
Is service really a problem in your organisation? To find out, let’s look at the different types of service and how it can be diagnosed.

There are are quite obviously different levels of service, but beyong good and bad.

I am a mad soccer follower. I have played since I was four. Anti service is seen regularly in a competitive arena. As a player, or even coach I am trying as hard as I can to NOT serve the competition. I am not going to try to help them score a goal.

We do the same in business where we try to beat the competition.

Sometimes we have the same competitiveness and anti-service towards people in our own organisation. We see this often with two car salesmen rushing towards us in a car yard, or two middle managers fighting for a promotion.

We also see it in our interactions with customers. You will se examples in call centres. The staff are measured on call response times, to turn the calls over as quickly as possible. You will also see this in some Banking Teller situations, or even airlines trying to turn the plane as soon as possible. The customer may require more time but the staff member is encouraged to do the opposite. You can see the same behaviour in a Doctor’s surgery.

At other times you will see Anti Service in companies that are self assured of their own importance. We have the best product and customers should be privileged to use the service.
Sometimes you see this in Monopolies such as government services.

Next posting is Forced Service..... Steven

Individuals, groups and companies all have a reason for their existence, a purpose. Rarely do you find yourself where you intended to be. Your goals went one way and reality went another.
In the famous movie City Slickers, when Billy Chrystal asks Jack Palance’s character the meaning of life, Jack commandingly holds up one finger and says “It’s one thing”, but Billy never gets the answer.

Our lives, and our companies all have a purpose. The only difference between people and companies is that companies get to choose their creation, their DNA. Once that purpose is found, we need to work on meaning.

For individuals, our purpose can be reduced to one word. We all seek one thing above all else, above fame fortune and family, we seek happiness.

We get meaning from our lives (have value) when our purpose is transferred to others. When we can transfer our happiness to others we create meaning.

Companies get to choose their purpose through mission statements, but critically, they are useless endeavours unless that purpose is transferred to the outside world. That point of transference is Service.

However, happiness is under attack! Service is under attack!

The next blog posting will indentify the elements that are attacking Purpose.

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