The Age of the Customer™, Part 22: Converting to a new kind of quality
Successful customer service is the process of delivering value to a customer in exchange for payment.
Surely this is the prime directive of any business.
But this process isn’t truly successful unless the relationship can be sustained; and only quality produces sustainability.
“Quality service” is a 20th century term businesses use to declare a commitment to diligent customer support. But customers typically associate it with, and businesses too often tolerate it as, promptly addressing a problem. Here’s what quality service might sounds like:
“We’re sorry that part was the wrong size. But we’re committed to quality service, so one of our trucks will be there in an hour with a new part.”
In most cases, quality service impresses the customer. But while prompt attention is admirable, it’s not optimal because it has a negative impact on sustainability in at least two ways: 1) The customer was inconvenienced by inaccurate service; 2) fixing an avoidable problem is the worst kind of profit-eating inefficiency.
In the 21st century, successful small business customer service requires converting “quality service” to the quality process.
Executing a quality process, put simply, is serving customers right the first time. Accomplishing a quality process ranges from the very basic – accurate order filling, to the more complex plan of integrating into your operation only those vendors that share your quality process commitment.
The optimal goal of your quality process is sustainability through profitable customer relationships. This is accomplished when customers return to find your profitable business is still there, ready to serve them successfully – again.
Cash is king because the impact of negative cash on a business will take your breath away. And profit is queen only because the manifestation of negative profit takes longer than negative cash, which is the reason why quality service is even tolerated as a business practice.
When you’re ready to stop tolerating profit-eating quality service and convert to the profit-making quality process, here’s a good a place to start: Leslie Kossoff’s book, Managing for Quality, just out now in the new 21st century edition, in hard-copy and e-formats.
Remember, the quality service you’re so proud of may be admirable, but when delivered in response to something that was avoidable, it assaults profitability, threatens sustainability and, therefore, ultimately could put you out of business.
Write this on a rock... Convert quality service into the more profitable – and sustainable – quality process.
Jim Blasingame is creator and host of the Small Business Advocate Show. Copyright 2012, author retains ownership. All Rights Reserved.