Once upon a time, consumers enjoyed what I call The Golden Age of Customer Service. Alas, based on current research, we now appear to be in the Plastic Age of Customer Unservice.
The most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index revealed three sad facts: 1) a steady satisfaction decline in the past year; 2) the lowest level of satisfaction in almost a decade; and 3) the current level is lower than 25 years ago.
So why has such a level of unservice become so sustainable? Because customers are sensitized to what I call the Plastic Triplets: High volume, low price and poor service.
For small businesses, the Plastic Triplets represent both opportunity and danger. But seizing the former while avoiding the latter requires the understanding that rarely do the high volume, low price siblings appear without bringing along their triplet, poor service.
The danger of high volume is it’s almost always associated with a price war. This will be on the test: The price war is over and small business lost. And low prices are great for customers, but not for any business from which quality service is expected.
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 understanding, all a small business has to do to prove it isn’t plastic is to reverse the order of the triplets and rename them. Meet the Golden Triplets.
1. Excellent service. This is serving customers in a way that’s not only reliable, but also innovative and, most importantly, relevant. When service is excellent, the first thing you may notice is customers act surprised, because remember, humans still want excellent service, they’re just not used to it.
2. Premium prices. This is the mother’s milk of a small business because it delivers success sustaining higher margins. If you’re delivering value and aren’t charging for it, that probably means you’ve joined a price war, and you know what we’ve said about price wars.
3. Targeted volume. As a small business, you not only don’t want to do business with everyone, you can’t. So you have to target only those customers who want more than just price. They want customization, dependability, technical assistance and one more thing: They want you to save them time because, more people are valuing their time more than their money.
In the Age of the Customer, the key to sustained success is delivering the Golden Triplets with relevance to just those customers who are willing to pay for the special sauce of your small business.
Write this on a rock … Create your own Golden Age of Customer Service – and outrageous success – by staying focused on the Golden Triplets.