Spoiled by Choice

Martin Cooper, inventor of the mobile phone

In today’s world we have so many options for everything we desire. We are spoiled by choice. How many mobile phone models are on the market? Too many. How many different systems run on these phones? At least 5 (Android, IOS, Windows Mobile, Symbian, RIM) I can think of and there is no guarantee I got that right. What are the differences? What are commonalities? Details! Over all, products and services in different industries are so similar. There is no need for customer loyalty to any particular organisation.

A Good Company

So, lets step back and have a look from bird’s view. What distinguishes a good from a not so good company.

Technology: Who has got the better toy? Nokia was for a long time my favourite cell phone maker. These days I prefer the iPhone while some friends think nothing beats an Android phone. That tells me, you gotta have the technology but it ain’t make you a good company.

Processes: In every review processes have to come up and rightly so. Processes define if you got it. There are many wasteful processes or those who miss the current trend, from ISO certified to RoSH and energy efficient. Those companies who do it the smart way have got it.

Customer interaction: Right, we are getting closer. At the end it is about us the consumer. How are we being served? How easy to buy? How good is the service? How well made is the product? Just remember, we already established the product or service has to work to specifications. Now it’s all about the interaction between the company and its customers. The service attitude makes or breaks the deal.

Experience and Emotion: This is not new in itself although in the light of choice the personal touch becomes the decision making element. Just imagine for a moment you can get a Ferrari as a 4-seater for a reasonable pricetag. Wouldn’t you switch your family wagon in a heart beat? There is something special with some products. Nivea is one of these as is Channel No.5. Which bank gave you lately the feeling they are genuinely concerned about providing you the best advise for your hard earned dollars? That steers the emotions, doesn’t it!

Customer Service

The basic services is to do what the customer expects. That’s called standard.

Excellent service is to exceed the expectations and do the little extra. This will earn you brownie points but hardly loyalty.

To be different and make loyal customers, you got two choices

  1. surprise your customers
  2. surprise your competitors

For example, promise your customers what nobody else does and keep it! Create an experience that the customer is remembering you by. Think of the ‘old’ movie “Something gotta give” with Jack Nicholson where he gives Diana a black pebble for her collection of white pebbles saying “so you have something to remember me by”. By doing that he creates an anchor and everytime Diana looks at the black pebbles amid the white ones, she will remember that day at the beach. Apple is doing the same thing with their layout and service in the Apple stores. That leads to the next important advise, you are only as good as your next action. Heroism gets you attention once and is fantastic to get you out of a one-of problem, continuous heroism makes people wonder if you can’t get it right.

It is the ingrained extra bit of service that makes a permanent good company. It is the extra thought that went into the product or process design that makes one product loved and adored compared to one that is simply practical.

In my opinion, Passion (for the service you are delivering, for the product you are designing or making, for the people in your company) is what makes the difference between a good and not so good company.


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