Treading from Customer Satisfaction to Customer Delight!

We have always been hearing the phrase ‘Consumer is King’, but have started experiencing it only in recent years. Before liberalization in 1991, the consumer was at the mercy of the producer and supplier and had to be satisfied with whatever was available on offer.

However, 1991 onwards, as the Indian markets were thrown open to global players, competition turned fierce. Now manufacturers and suppliers had to woo customers to capture bigger market share. They realized they had to walk that extra mile to please the consumer by understanding their needs and fulfilling them to the T.

In the last 25 years of liberalization, we have seen a significant change in the scenario. More professionalism, better service and distinct consumer orientation are a part of the trend that has started taking roots.

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Manufacturers and service providers have now started taking proactive steps to understand customers’ expectations and their preferences. The objective has now gone beyond customer satisfaction to customer delight which meant giving them an experience that would make them come back to the manufacturer/ service provider again and again. Let us take some examples.

A family booked a room in a hotel. The hotel asked them about their arrival, further itinerary and their food preferences. Incidentally, the family was fasting on one of the days during their stay. To acknowledge this, the hotel management enquired if they would like a ‘fasting’ menu. The entire staff was courteous and warm. On the day of their departure, the manager himself asked if their stay had been comfortable and if they had any suggestions to help them give better service. Overall, the guests got a very pleasant experience, were made to feel very special and they felt an immediate bonding towards the hotel. Professional enterprises believe in creating better customer relationships, more than the increase in the number of customers.

A friend booked a cab to go from Pune to Thane. The owner of the cab service asked for all the details of the customer’s destination and timings. He texted the driver’s name, contact number and car number well in advance to the customer. The next day the driver called a few minutes before the scheduled time. The car was clean, filled with enough petrol and ready on time. The driver helped the passenger load the bags into the boot. He asked him the exact destination and entered the details into the GPS system. He was wearing clean clothes, refrained from picking up his mobile while driving and was very polite in his mannerisms. The owner of the cab service also called to ask if everything was going as per schedule. The whole experience of the trip was very safe, comfortable and enjoyable. So much so that the customer later contacted the owner to give him a very positive feedback!

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The long and short of it is, that modern business must go that extra mile to make the customer happy. We must admit that a lot of our systems have improved significantly. We can order a gas cylinder on phone and it is delivered in time. Railways are improving their hygiene and safety standards. Things are getting better and will continue to do so in the future because the customer is now the centre of the market universe!

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is the Director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.

This article was originally written in the Marathi Magazine- Yashaswi Udyojak (February 2016). This post is the translated abridged version of the same article.

 

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The best service at the right price!

Consistent success relies on consistency in the quality of service. It’s not desirous but rather essential for a long haul in business. As mentioned earlier, it is to do with integrity and common sense which applies in personal life and extends to professional life. Just as one would expect another person to keep their word and be sincere in their actions, so would the customer expect a business to give good quality service and be courteous and thoughtful about the customer’s needs. Once this is understood perfectly, it becomes the ethos of business and stands in good stead forever through its future journey.

Quality is important not in one or some of the business practices but in every product, service and interaction with the customer. A shortfall or lacuna in even one could prove detrimental to the image of the business. Just as a school student’s exam score comes down because of bad performance in even one subject, so can a company’s business get affected because of negligence on any front.

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Remember, past glory never helps in erasing the flaw that shows at any given point in time. Even if a student scores well in 5th, 6th and 7th grade, if she fails in the 8th, her past years’ performance does not help her. Another example is that of a driver. Even if you are a very cautious and skilled driver, one single mistake can cause an accident and cost you heavily. Your previous record cannot negate the damage done.

Very often consumers do not mind spending a little more just because they are getting superior service. Nowadays people don’t just look at the product they buy but also the demeanor of the salesman, the welcome they get at the door, how quickly their billing gets done, how the item is packed and many other things. It is the overall experience that lingers long in the mind of the customer.

In today’s cut throat competition, the customer has several options to choose from which is why businesses vie to give them the best service. Companies who procure products from suppliers base their decisions on timely delivery, quality of the product, after sales maintenance, turnaround time if changes are asked for and many other factors.

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Customers don’t just look at the product they buy at the mall but even the delay in billing as they stand in a long queue can make them stop patronizing the mall and go to another shop instead!

Quality in service builds with time as customers experience the service. A new business must therefore enter the market with ‘lower than competitor’s’ prices. This will first attract customers. Later as they also experience the interaction, courtesy and quality of service, the brand gets a well-deserved lift. Reasonable prices and the best service therefore become a sure shot gateway to successful business.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is the Director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.

This article was originally written in the Marathi Magazine- Yashaswi Udyojak (January 2016). This post is the translated abridged version of the same article

 

Delight Your Customer!

In the previous blog post, I wrote about how Quality has different meanings for different people.When we sell goods internationally, it is critical that these goods are produced to and maintained at a certain high standard – one that is decided by our customer and that we have committed to meet.

However, for a service, the customer does not define a standard and we do not have a clear idea of his expectation. As we have no idea about the customer’s expectations, the question of agreeing to meet them does not arise. Even so, there are some basic expectations that we must fulfill if we want to provide good quality service. Let’s look at some examples to understand this.

On a visit to a dentist, as soon as I had sat in the chair, I saw the previous patient’s extracted tooth, a swab of bloodied cotton and used instruments on a round table next to my chair. I also saw some red stains in the basin next to the chair. I mumbled an excuse and promptly got up and left. I went to the dentist next door. At the second dentist, I was called in only after everything had been cleaned. The dentist washed his hands in front of me and sterilized every instrument before examining me. I was impressed by his methods. After that, not only did I become a regular patient, I also recommended him to numerous friends and acquaintances.

On another occasion, I had called a plumber to my house to fix a leaking tap. The plumber came, changed the washer and got the tap working. After that, he threw the old washer into the garbage bin and cleaned the tap and the surrounding area. He then proceeded to check all the taps in the house and clean their filters – all this without being told! While leaving, he gave us a bill for the work done, along with a detailed break-up of the amount. He told us that we could call him any time between 7 am to 9 pm for anything we needed. He has now become the ‘go-to’ person for my household.

The well-known Marathi writer, Shri Va Pu Kale, has recorded several observations in his story ‘Satavalekar’ from his ‘Karmachari’ collection. He has described in accurate detail how finding a piece of onion or garlic skin or chilly stalk in one’s ‘kanda-pohe’ is enough to dampen one’s enthusiasm!

Nowadays, most weddings serve buffets. There, if one has to wipe one’s own plate, spoon and bowl, then, however good the food may be, it is unlikely to earn any praise. At some buffets, some of the items have to still ‘arrive’. When this happens, a person usually eats whatever he can get, compliments the hosts on the good food and makes his way out!

Small things like these cause a customer to feel let down. Every customer won’t give you his feedback; he will simply avoid you.

Overall, we have to think about what will make our service good, decide the processes to be followed and keep making improvements to bring our service to a level of excellence. Only then will our customers say that we offer ‘quality’.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is a director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.