08/09/10

Some Only Need It. Others Really Want It

By Derek Williams, Founder and Chief Executive of The WOW! Awards

Losing weight, giving up smoking, getting a better education, getting a better job. Some people only need it. Others really want it.

And so it is with customer service. Some organisations really need to give better service. Their customers are telling them so, their employees are telling them so and their profits are probably telling them so. But for whatever reason, they don’t want to give better service.

And then there are those who really want it. Those organisations that recognise the importance of listening to their customers, creating a culture with high levels of employee engagement and building their bottom line and their goodwill.

If you want to feel great service go to an organisation that wants to serve you, where the people are empowered and encouraged to delight you. Very often these organisations don’t need big budgets for advertising or recruitment or training. I’ve never seen a single advertisement for Pret A Manger yet their service is outstanding and their business has grown rapidly from humble beginnings in 1986.

It starts with leadership, with a vision, the ability to communicate that vision and the strength to look for long term growth rather than short term profits. You can feel the leadership running through the organisation like the word Blackpool in a stick of rock. I feel Julian Richer’s influence at Richer Sounds, John and James Timpson at Timpson shoe bars, Richard Branson at Virgin Atlantic and Charles Dunstone at Carphone Warehouse.

You don’t have to be big. You don’t have to be small. But remember that a big business is just a small business that did the right things.

Think lifetime value. When a customer comes in for a USB stick, think what their lifetime value might be. A computer every two years, plus printers, and cables and inks and paper and servicing and broadband, for them, for their family, for their business. Cock up on the £10 sale and you lose that lifetime value for your lifetime.

Derek Williams is an author and international speaker on customer service and employee engagement.

The WOW! Awards is a process that allows customers to catch people doing things right. This highly motivational process is now being used by organisations as diverse as Scottish Power, LOVEFiLM, Merseyside Police and Cadbury — all leaders in their field for customer service.

Watch a video of Brian Chernett, Founder of The Academy For Chief Excecutives, explaining how The Academy For Chief Executives inspires business leaders.

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