To become an exceptional company, no matter what industry we are in, requires commitment, dedication & patience. By simply having a fancy tagline, impressive decoration or announcing to the world that we are a first class company, we do not become a 5-star organization. This is not an overnight process but a cult-like commitment to core philosophy. It takes tremendous amounts of work and that is why many companies don't do it. Others, simply don't know what it takes to become an exceptional service company and create loyal fans. This article will explore some of the key requirements to create an exceptional brand by examining some of the leading organizations such as the Ritz-Carlton Hotels, Capella, Four Seasons Hotels, Amazon, Apple and more.
Focus on Creating Loyal Fans
No matter how good we are at innovation, products or services we offer, if we do not have loyal customers and employees that we can retain, we are destined to fail. It is a simple process but most organizations fail to do it. To create loyal fans, we must make people fall in love with us. It is that simple. See, when someone is in love, they don't pay attention to others. We want them to fall in love with us so much that even if we mess up or have a service failure, they will ignore it. Most companies know loyalty is important but majority have the know-how to achieve the level of consistency required to create a loyal based. Having a loyal base that are in love with our organization do not become distracted by competitors savvy marketing techniques. When a company has a loyal base it can weather unexpectecipated business storms. An example of a company with a large loyal base is the Ritz-Carlton Hotels. The company has both loyal customers and loyal employees. In 2008, global economic crash affected every industry specially the hotel sector. However, the company was able to survive the storm because, it had a loyal customer base that even though they reduced their travel frequency, they stayed loyal to the brand. The employees also stayed loyal and many accepted to move away to other locations, sometimes across the world, where the company was less affected.
For people to love us, we must be able to anticipate their needs. This begins by truly understanding them and keep a log of their desires and preferences. For us to anticipate the needs of our customers, we must create a culture where our team members understand the difference between a job purpose and job function. The job function is described within a job description but the purpose is typically found in a company's mission statement, it is the higher purpose for every company. When employees understand the purpose, they begin shifting from being reactive to becoming proactive and anticipating customers' needs. To create a 5-star organization, this must become the rule than exception we practice everyday.
Understand The Pillars of Satisfaction
For an organization to become exceptional in customer service, the management needs to first understand what it takes to have a satisfied customer. These are called the pillars of satisfaction and all of them are required, if we want to achieve high level of satisfaction among our customers. Here is are the pillars:
1. Predictable Outcome/Product/Service
Without having a predictable and quality product or service, we cannot attain the levels of satisfaction needed to leap us toward a five star organization. Even in industries such as healthcare where the treatment outcomes may vary from patient to patient, there is an expectation for delivering predictable treatment. Companies such as Apple could not have reached the level of success and won people's heart, if there was inconsistency in their products or service.
2. Genuine and Caring People
If we have the best product or service in the world but our people are indifferent in serving customers, we can lose our satisfied fan base. Uncaring and indifference is one of the main reasons customers easily switch brands as caring is a natural human desire. We always gravitate toward those who care more for us.
3. On Time Promises
A satisfied customer looks up to us in keeping our promises in a timely manner. In today's world of fast robotic applications with super computers taking over many human functions, our customers including us as consumers, we look for companies that can satisfy our needs and solve our problems right away. This is where organizations must really focus on workflow and handling capacities. In typical 5-star organization, I can easily spot more employees per customer than it may seem necessary. The reason for this is not poor HR management but great service design to address overcapacity issues so customers are never underserved and everything is delivered to them on time.
4. Fast & Effective Resolution
Service or product failure is always possible but how we handle this breakdown is more important. Research has shown companies that have a well documented fast and effective resolution process where they are able to return the customer's experience to previous state where failure did not happen, generally win the customers over as a loyal fan. One reason for this is the fact that this is an opportunity for the company to shine and show they are truly professional in handling problems. Organizations such as the Ritz-Carlton, The Four Seasons Hotel, Apple and Amazon, they empower employees to resolve problems quickly on their own without the need of approval from a manager. This fast and effective resolution process must be embedded in a company's culture from the top management and trickled down to all levels.
In summary, to become an award winning brand is not just about a great product or service but a combination of many things that must be understood, mapped out and planned for each company. It is a lot of hard work up-front but once the foundations are laid correctly, the systems can easily be duplicated and supported by our teams.
Dr. Allen Nazeri DDS MBA is a healthcare management consultant based in Bangkok and Las Vegas. He provides complete business development and organization solutions to help companies to develop, scale and exit successfully with high valuations. He is available for group training and corporate seminars. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org