by Aki Kalliatakis on 28/08/12 at 8:56 am
As a new season approaches, consumer-facing businesses confront their annual opportunity to spring into action, debug their operations and spruce up their service levels. But all too often the ‘spring fling’ turns out to be a blooming waste of time because the clean-out simply does not go far enough.
That’s the view of Aki Kalliatakis, managing partner at The Leadership LaunchPad consultancy and a service fundi who is often called in by businesses looking for sustainable growth on the back of superior customer satisfaction.
“Spring’s a great time to re-energise your business,” says Kalliatakis. “Sadly, most businesses will take a feather duster to a few shelves, put some spring flowers on the counter and then go back to same old, same old.This means those exceptional stores and businesses that build on spring fever by launching a proper renewal strategy have an unprecedented opportunity to woo consumers and win market share.”
He says customised interventions depend on thorough study of a business’s past practice, industry norms and competitor activity, but a basic four-point plan can be put in place by almost any business – from a sweet shop to a conglomerate.
Ideas that spring to mind are:
1. Debug the business …
review operations, focusing on issues that frustrate, delay and upset customers. Then find ways to cut the queues at the counter, improve signage, clear the aisles or remove the impediments to doing business in an efficient, friendly and engaging fashion. You might need research to identify the bugs, but you can save time by simply asking customers what irritates them most at your store, service centre, reception area, etc.
2. Enthuse the troops …
create fun and improve the motivation of the team. It might require training or retraining, but can be as simple as reminding them to smile and say ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ whenever appropriate.
3. Put a spring in your step …
get managers, supervisors and staff to respond a little faster. Create a sense of urgency. Review lead times. Check how long it takes to serve a customer, pick up a phone or make a delivery … then do it faster; not just for spring but for always.
4. Freshen up …
a new coat of paint, a refurbishment or clean-up can work wonders. Don’t just stick to the physical environment. While you’re at it, refresh web sites, procedures, staff uniforms, the look and feel of company advertising, even the in-store music and recorded messages.
Says Kalliatakis: “When you make the decision to spring clean your customer experiences, look in every nook and cranny for opportunities to perk up your company. Making customers happier than they were when they woke up that day is the ultimate goal. Spring to it!”
Aki Kalliatakis is the Managing Partner of The Leadership LaunchPad, a company dedicated to helping clients become more customer driven. He can be contacted at (011) 640 3958, or via the website at www.DelightYourCustomers.co.za. View more articles by Aki Kalliatakis.