Speed - the Differentiation
Factor Between Great Service and Even Greater Service
Speed has become a differentiator between great service and even greater service. Speed and quick response need to somehow be integrated into virtually every business. People want things fast. You may remember the quote …
"If I wanted it today, I would have asked for it tomorrow!" The Boss
One of my favorite stories about "speed" is about a mail order computer company, PC Mac Connection.
One night a friend and I were having dinner. He was telling me about his new high speed computer modem. (A modem is the device that allows your computer to hook into a telephone line.) He was telling me about how fast the modem was compared to his old one. It wasn't that expensive and I had to get one.
I asked him where he bought his. He told me PC Mac Connection. I said that I would pick one up the next day and asked where they were located.
Then he told me PC MAC was a mail order company located in New Hampshire, and as soon as he was home, he would call and give me their toll free number.
At 11:00 that night my friend called with the phone number. I immediately called them to order the modem. At midnight, their time, a very nice person answered the phone. I placed the order, gave her my credit card number and went to bed.
The next day at 8:30, there was a delivery man at my office door. He had a box from PC Mac Connection.
Wait a minute! I just ordered this modem 9 ½ hours ago! How could they deliver it this fast? Even more amazing was that the computer store down the street didn't open for another thirty minutes!
How did they do this? Well, the answer is really simple. PC Mac Connection realized that even though they were based in New Hampshire, their warehouse didn't have to be. So, they positioned the warehouse adjacent to one of the overnight delivery companies. When the order was placed and confirmed in New Hampshire, a label with a part number was printed at their warehouse. All the warehouse person had to do to fulfill the order was to stick the label on the correct box and deliver it next door. As long as the order was processed before 2:00 a.m. it could be on one of the overnight delivery company's planes that took off at 3:00 a.m.
Think about how impressive this is. Just a few years ago, mail order used to take 4-6 weeks. You were excited if you received it within a few weeks. Then the turn-around time became less, 2-4 weeks. Then it was "mailed out" within 24 hours which meant you received it in 4-5 days. Today the benchmark is OVERNIGHT service.
One way to incorporate speed into your business is to learn to anticipate what your customer's needs will be. Be proactive versus reactive. For example, a waiter at a restaurant will watch a table to make sure the customers are being taken care of. Rather than wait for the customer to ask for another glass of water, the waiter is pouring a new glass before the customer has a chance to ask.
Think of the many ways you might be able to use speed in your business. It might be as simple as returning calls quickly. Turning around an order for a customer more promptly. If you are in the parts business, there might be a problem with a part for a customer, so ship out a replacement part the same day - not even waiting for the broken part to be returned. Getting a report out quicker than expected. There are lots of ways!
Speed or quick response is a powerful differentiator. Not too many years ago the big differentiator was customer service. Customers looked for and found companies that provided good customer service. Now that many companies are effectively using service to their advantage, you need to find other things to take you and your organization beyond just good service. In other words, customers are not just looking for companies who give good service compared to their competition. They are looking for companies who give better service than the competition.
Faxing, e-mail, courier services and overnight mail have created a sometimes challenging expectation of fast service. Find different ways to incorporate speed into already great service and you will raise yourself to the next level, exceeding your customer's expectations, and when you do that, you will be creating a MOMENT OF MAGIC
Shep Hyken, CSP is a professional speaker and author specializing in the areas of customer service, customer loyalty and internal service. For more information on Shep's speaking programs, books and tapes contact (314)692-2200, e-mail: Shep@hyken.com and visit http://www.hyken.com .
Many more articles on Customer Service in The CEO Refresher Archives