I have been to my share of luxury resorts and hotels throughout the United States and Europe. These places are always fabulously decorated, professional and accommodating. Most of the people are polite and the amenities are always better than your average place. When you are paying extra you of course raise the bar for expectation.
Recently, I traveled to the Bahamas and stayed at another luxury resort. I expected it would be great and it was. The only exception is that the service was much better than I ever received at any other place I had ever been to. It was totally beyond what I ever expected. That was impressive as I had stayed in some pretty nice joints over the years.
What was so different about the service? It seemed like the people actually cared about my needs. The entire complex employs over 8,000 employees. I had come in contact with dozens of their employees and the model was consistent. They all asked if I was having a good time and if there was anything that they can do or help with. This was every single employee that I encountered during the entire 4 days! And if I did need something they were right there with the solution. Plus, they had the solutions and provided them in a timely fashion.
As we all do on vacation, I immediately began thinking what more my company could do to provide service to our clients that was that impressive. Great service is one thing but impressive service that goes beyond expectations is quite another. Impressive service can make the difference in securing and cultivating ongoing long-term relationships with our customers. Service must be such that it makes customers anxious to do business with you. You want customers to be so impressed that they walk away thinking, “That was a great experience – I got more than I expected. I will certainly use that company again and would not hesitate to recommend them.”
What every company needs is more time that can be spent actually talking to customers to make sure they are benefiting from the products that are offered. Businesses also must provide prompt and thorough solutions to customer needs. To solve both of these issues requires that the business is operating efficiently and has processes and tools in place that will address the customer’s requirements and more.
Today having automation is simply not enough. Every company uses some type of automation to take care of business. Automated solutions vary in nature and extent. The companies with more extensive solutions and employees that are trained thoroughly on processes and software use have a clear-cut advantage over those companies that do not. A total solution that covers power marketing and sales and complete front and back office operations will afford total business intelligence. The customer experience needs to encompass everything from start to finish. You start impressing them when you begin marketing to them.
What exactly is business intelligence and how can it impact the way you do business? The answer is simple. Information will be readily available to you and your customers. This means that you will save yourself and your customers time so that everyone can do what they should be doing which is taking care of customers. The goal is to be more profitable and make your customer more profitable. That’s the win-win and that is what sets a service organization apart.
How impressive is it when you call your customers when you said you would call them – not just once but every time? How impressive might it be when you deliver what you said you would deliver and much more than they thought they would get? Impressive service means giving the customer more than what they expected from you. When they ask you a question, you have a timely answer without having to check with other departments or “people that are not in today”. When they have a problem, you need to have a timely solution at hand that can be put into action immediately. How many other companies can give them that activity report every week with great information on their usage? How many other companies will offer them something like that without them having to ask first? How many other companies will call them regularly to see what more can be done and then do it?
The total customer experience is everything. It is not enough to have satisfied customers. Today we need to impress them. The only way to do this by cultivating business intelligence and thus the full gamut of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can occur. It starts with marketing; moves through to sales and close of business; to front office operations to accounting and financial planning / business forecasting. This automated process is the means by which current and future needs can be anticipated. Without having the information readily at hand in order to plan and structure, we thrust ourselves into a guessing game. When we guess wrong we lose.
This article made an appearance in the April 2008 issue of starffdigest Magazine. www.staffdigest.com
Terri Roeslmeier is President of Automated Business Designs, Inc., software developer of Ultra-Staff software for the staffing and direct hire industry. Ultra-Staff is a staffing software business solution with components for front office, back office and the web. Terri’s email address is TAR@abd.net or for more information on Ultra-Staff go to www.abd.net