A couple of weeks ago a friend and I visited a historical property which had been used as the location for a well-known period drama. It was an interesting but also slightly confusing experience for someone with an interest in (real) history: there seeemed to be just one main target customer… the fan of the fictional tv drama!
This experience reminded me of a large annual event I attended a couple of years ago. Having enjoyed it on previous occasions, it couldn’t have been a more different experience this time! Although supposedly offering the same level of service, it was disappointing in more ways than one. The date coincided with an important football match and as a result, football fans were catered for with their own viewing area. I have nothing against football but it wasn’t long before the evidence of too much drinking and rowdy behaviour started to affect the general atmosphere.
It seemed as if both the event organisers and the owners of the historical property had repackaged their original offer in order to achieve an increase in tickets sales. There is nothing wrong with that in principle but sadly they failed to manage some of our expectations by decreasing the value!
Lesson 1 - You can’t please everyone by being Jack of all trades and have one offer to fit several target audiences.
Lesson 2 - When times are tough, reducing the cost of what you offer may be tempting but can dilute both its value and your buyer’s experience which may lead to disappointment. Equally, increasing the cost when targeting a very specific audience will only work if you add extra value.
Lesson 3 – If you offer different service levels in your business, make it clear what the difference is between them. Spell it out in easy-to-understand terms, so that your customers know exactly what they are getting for their money.
Lesson 4 - Double-check that they understand everything. Provide easy-to-find information on your website and in any documents that you send or give out. Don’t make people look for the small print and don’t assume everyone reads or understands it either. So make sure you go the extra mile by providing customer service that starts before you actually deliver the service.
Lesson 5 – Make yourself approachable and make it easy for customers to ask questions. At the large event above, there was no information point – don’t just assume that because most people don’t or won’t ask, they don’t have any questions.
Lesson 6– Listen carefully to any negative feedback. There can be a temptation to just consider all the positive feedback especially when you receive lots of it. However it is the negative feedback that will give you ideas how to improve your service, or at least help you to maintain a consistently high level.
Lesson 7 - Aways put yourself in your customers’ shoes before launching a new service or product (or organising an event). Try to experience it through their eyes, rather than yours!
Whilst you can’t please everyone, you need to be seen to care. The secret to good customer service is caring for your customers and showing that you are interested in the relationship rather than just in the business.
There is simply nothing better than having a loyal customer and a strong relationship where both parties value what they give and receive, and each other – a real win-win for all!
Ute Wieczorek-King is an experienced trainer, mentor and business coach, who specialises in helping busy women to be more more focused, efficient, productive and profitable in business. She also runs Success Network, a Thames Valley based business support organisation for women. http://www.successnetwork.org.uk