Businesses, particularly those in very competitive industries will often be encouraged to focus on the elements of marketing’s 7P’s model in order to stand out from the crowd. These 7 P’s are: Product, Price, Place, Promotion, People, Process and Physical Evidence; but each of these can be very complex areas that require a lot of examination and subsequent investment.
Just twelve months on from the purchase of my wife’s German car we’ve returned it to the main agent for its first service. It was bought from a very large brand whose franchise is owned by a long-standing British firm which can easily ‘tick the boxes’ on five of our seven P’s. But the problems we have encountered with the remaining two (People and Process) are frankly really rather hard to believe for organisations the size of these two. Yes, they fully admitted their significant shortcomings and didn’t invoice us for the work, and they also offered to pay for us to have a rather lavish meal out to atone for their shoddy level of service. But despite this I couldn’t help wonder why the most basic elements of customer care seem to have been completely overlooked?
It got me thinking about another marketing model…Kaplan & Norton’s Balanced Scorecard which places Vision and Strategy at the centre of internal business processes, customer, learning and growth and financial. This articulates the need for a structured and carefully sustained development, one that doesn’t see an over reliance on any one area at the expense of another.
The problems we encountered were horrendous, don’t get me wrong no one would have got hurt from their actions but if ever there was a case to think that the experiences you were having were part of a comedy sketch that ultimately turned into a drama this would have been it. From being told one thing, to being told something completely opposite, to be told the work would be covered at no cost, to being told it would be chargeable, back to no cost and then asked to pay; from being deceived about the length of repair to shouting contradictory messages to the workshop manager whilst leaving the phone open for me to hear the conversation, to not receiving call backs, to causing distress to my wife and son as the car was brought to an unnecessary halt on the way home and more besides, this was a calamity from start to finish. At the end of the process the Service Manager admitted he was embarrassed, both at the level of service we received and the falsehoods he had also been given and that he would be taking further internal action. But this blog is not about them, it’s about you and how you can learn from their failings.
I initially thought the problem may have been with one or two members of staff, but what I believe I’m seeing is a situation where it’s all too easy to blame individuals. Often in these cases it’s a cultural thing, it’s down to the senior management not investing as much in their staff as they do their buildings, their products and their marketing hype. Thinking this through you can see why Kaplan & Norton’s Balanced Scorecard is so relevant. Investing in all the glitz and glamour is, and never will be, a substitute for good old fashioned customer service.
Whether this was a case of individuals who were not doing their jobs because they were incompetent or perhaps overworked will only be known by that business. But don’t allow yourselves to follow a similar path because it’ll only end up costing you more money in the long-run. By taking steps now to gauge the opinions of those at the ‘coal face’ and seek to invest in them and the systems they need to help them in their work they’ll do more for your business than any shiny new building.
If you recognise this problem and you’d like to discuss what we could do for you with regards to people and processes (or any of the remaining ‘P’s) please get in touch by calling 01788-815327.