Here is a bold statement: Reactive service has little to no value to a customer/client. At best, it creates a neutral experience and at worst it can erode goodwill.
Great service and the hallmark of an experience is being able to anticipate needs instead of reacting to them. Reacting is easy. On March 10, I wrote about Wayne Gretzky. Another facet of Gretzky’s style of play that made him amazing was that he was a master at anticipation and skated “to where the puck is going to be, not to where it has been.” In other words, he anticipated where the puck was going while everyone else was worried about where it was and how to react to it in that moment.
Let me give you an example. In my local area, there are three bike shops. Two are long established and one is a start-up. The start-up (www.skyride.ca) has been able to establish itself quickly and dial up the competition in the bike space around here because they are focused on establishing relationships with everyone who comes into their shop. And they have been maniacal about making it a cool place to hang out, talk bikes and share adventures. To this point, they have partnered with the coolest and hippest local coffee shop to have a coffee bar in the store. Aside from their ability to create high levels of client loyalty, they are first rate at delivering what people want and need regarding their bikes and maintenance of their investment. Skyride is outstanding at anticipating that their users (I use that word deliberately) want repairs and service done in a timely fashion and without disruption to their riding plans. They never let anyone down.
So, what has happened in this little case study? Well, Skyride has been able to disrupt the local market place by focusing on anticipating what customers want in a superior bike buying and owning experience. One of the established shops has seen what was once a dominant position erode to the point of being an also-ran and second-tier choice for people. The other established store was actually sold to a new owner who has overhauled it and gets full points for trying but is still very reactive in how the shop treats customers. For example, I went in there last year for a service that included a rim truing on two bikes. My name and needs were entered into a computer system and an order number with a 2-week wait time was issued. When I asked if I really had to wait two weeks, I was told that they were really backed up and that was just the way it was. Needless to say, I promptly asked for my bikes back and drove the extra 5 minutes to Skyride where I was greeted with a smile, a coffee and a rock-solid promise to come back in two afternoons when my bikes would be ready. What I was told on the way out the door sums it all up: “We know you want to get riding. The weather is fantastic and riding is a fantastic activity. We will see you Wednesday afternoon.”
Another cool thing Skyride does is that if a sales person is not busy, they hang around the door and keep an eye out for people unloading bikes to bring into the shop. They will hustle out and give the customer a warm welcome and helping hand.
Where is the Serious Shift in all of this? Anticipation and understanding your customers are the Shift Points here. Our little case study shows us how disruptive it can be to your competitors and how it can give you some market leadership.
Look at points in your operations that react more than anticipate. Can you turn that around so you can anticipate instead of react? Find a few of those points and some Serious Shift will happen.
Continued success, TF.