Finding Success With The Golden Triplets

Jim Blasingame

Prior to 1975, consumers enjoyed what I call The Golden Age of Customer Service. Sadly, based on recent research, we now appear to be in the Plastic Age of Customer Service.

In a recent American Customer Satisfaction Index, the average customer satisfaction rating was less than 60%. Going six for 10 is pretty good -- if you're playing baseball. But during The Golden Age of Customer Service, any business with that batting average was headed for the shower.

So how has such a level of unservice become a 21st century norm? Because consumers have become sensitized to what I call the Plastic Triplets: High volume, low price and poor service.

For small businesses, the Plastic Triplets create both opportunity and danger. But seizing the former and avoiding the latter requires an understanding of two things:

1. Rarely do the high volume, low price siblings appear without bringing along their triplet, poor service.

Don't get me wrong; there's nothing inherently wrong with high volume. But it becomes bad for small businesses when they join a price war.

And low price is also not inherently bad -- for consumers. But it's bad for a small business that turns down that dark and dangerous road. Remember, the price war is over and small business lost.

2. Nothing that has happened in the past 30 years has changed how humans want to be treated, only how they expect to be treated.

Armed with this knowledge and understanding, all a small business has to do to prove that it isn't plastic is to reverse the order of the Plastic Triplets and rename them.

Our first new triplet is excellent service, which is delivering goods and services in a way that is not only reliable, but also creative and innovative.

The first thing you'll notice is that your customers will be astonished, because remember, humans still want to be treated well, they're just not used to it.

The second of our new triplets is the mother's milk of a small business: premium prices that deliver high margins. If you're not charging for the value you deliver, that means you've joined a price war, and you know what we've said about price wars.

The third triplet is targeted volume. As a small business, you not only don't want to do business with everyone, you can't. Target only those customers who want more from you than just price.

The customers you're after want customization, dependability, technical assistance and one more thing: They want you to save them time.

This may be the most important 21st century development on which small businesses must focus: More and more people are valuing their time more than their money.

It has been said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But the way to the heart of a 21st century small business customer is through excellent service.

Write this on a rock... Focus on the Golden Triplets and you'll create your own Golden Age of Customer Service and outrageous success.

Jim Blasingame
Small Business Expert and host of The Small Business Advocate Show
©2008 All Rights Reserved

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