Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why Do We Pay More and Accept Less - Part Deux


I can't believe it's May!  We had a lovely weekend in Chicago and I spent most of it at Art Chicago which is an international fair of modern and contemporary art.  All in all, a lot of great work using all sorts of (non social) media: painting, photography, drawings, prints, sculpture, video, etc.  There was also a great arts and social media seminar which I'll also be writing about this week.  You can catch my brief vlog (recorded on May 2) on that seminar here.

About two months ago, I wrote about how everything seems to cost more while service and the notion of service have seemingly disappeared.  I also quoted some interesting data from a business survey (thanks Bruce Temkin) which showed the following:

  • 90% of the respondents said customer experience was critical to their 2010 strategy; and
  • 80% want their customer experience to be a form of competitive differentiation.

Other research (hats off again to Bruce Temkin) show that for every 10% increase in a firm's Customer Experience Index, resulted in a $284 Million positive change for every $10 Billion in revenue broken out in these ways:

  • $65 Million in additional purchases; and
  • $116 Million reduction in churn; and
  • $103 Million in word of mouth or "buzz" marketing.

I thought about that post while reading that Ryan Air wants to charge people to use the lavatories and Spirit Air wants to charge for carry on bags.  It boggles the mind why business keeps moving in the exact opposite direction.

Why am I strolling down bloggers' memory lane?  Well, some things happened in the span of this past week which made me a little more thoughtful about servicing and why it's so important to pay attention to the types of relationships we create and maintain with others.  I'm particular sensitive than ever as I'm prettying up our 678 Partners site and coming up with our "tone" and "elevator speeches" as we connect with others for our own networking purposes or making introductions.  You can't think too much about this.  Your reputation is yours to make and destroy with one sleight of hand.

Amir, my better half and business partner, and I went out to dinner last weekend to a bistro located just outside of the city.  We had an 8pm reservation and we were on time.  We announced ourselves and watched a little bit of confusion at the host's stand with some whispering.  We were asked to wait at the bar.  So we waited.  And waited.  And then waited.  The manager approached after twenty minutes and said we'd still wait and asked if we wanted a beverage.  So we ordered.  And waited.  And then waited.  We were seated a full forty five minutes after arrival.  

Now, I will say that it was a great meal.  But because of the abnormally long wait, a few things occurred: we didn't order a bottle of wine, we stuck with the one drink we had, I was sensitive to appetizer/entree price points, noticed when the water wasn't poured perfectly into the glass and almost dripped on me, I was aware of how close we were seated to other tables and how loud it was.  I also noticed that nothing was "comped" because of the inconvenience.  

Friends, all of these very high maintenance reactions were because of the unexplained and mysterious wait.  I'm normally the "oh, whatever" and "life's too short" person at the table.  But because we weren't informed and the wait was mysterious, I felt like someone was abusing my business.  I didn't feel valued as a customer.  Maybe a little over reactive but there you have it, nonetheless.  Perception is reality.

Over the weekend, I had a salon appointment.  I showed up on time and was told the aesthetician would be out shortly.  I waited.  And waited.  And then waited.  Twenty five minutes later, I was informed that she was stuck in traffic but that she'd be coming in.  I was walking out when she finally did arrive...  breathless.  I found out their staff didn't tell her she had an appointment -- until they called her after I had arrived.  

This aesthetician is excellent.  Just like in the restaurant example, I'm usually the "oh, whatever" person while waiting for her.  But like the restaurant example, I felt like someone was abusing my business because I wasn't informed and the wait was mysterious.  I didn't feel valued as a customer.  Perception is reality.

In other words, it should be about the satisfaction and the needs of the client and not about the business.  These anecdotes are unwittingly a continuation of my last post.  The customer service failings here occurred because both of these service businesses made the situations a "me" story instead of a "you" story.  

As I said previously, the personal touch matters.  The listening matters.  The focus matters.  The authenticity matters.  I accept the responsibility that my business succeeds or fails based on my ability to listen and have a laser like focus on my customer.  The only way to become a "trusted advisor" in the long run lies in delivering the ask without introducing the irrelevant.

If the data I shared above (again) is true, then there is no excuse to not deliver the ask.  The math is simple and pretty easy to understand.  So why does business make the same mistake?

I'd love to hear your views on this!  Please send a note!


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

1 comment:

  1. Great Blog Parissa and good Vlogs to both of you. This is all so true. Your blog is very visual and I feel that I was there with you in the experience. This reminds me of a book that I've coached on in the past entitled "The Critical Non-Essentials", it is written by a dentist in Melbourne and the premise is the exact opposite of your experience. The advice is to be very pro-active in creating raving fans by going overboard in not only meeting the acceptable standard, but in lavishing on certain 'extras' that make the 'normal' experience awe-inspiring. So instead of the SpiritAir or RyanAir approach that you mentioned above, it would be offering tea and coffee in the dentist waiting lounge, along with very soothing and engaging media. You'll have to read his book to gain more of an understanding. The gist is that our 'customer experience' should be our top priority and that we should staff and invest into this area at all costs, not charge extra for lavatory usage!