Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Little Things Make A Faster Horse

"If I had asked my customers what they wanted,
they would have said a faster horse."

-- Henry Ford

I'm all for listening to feedback about services, products and experience, but I don't necessarily make my decisions based on that feedback. I think most of us know what we like and what we don't like as consumers of goods and services ourselves. If we then fashion our businesses around that very philosophy, I cannot see it going wrong.

Some of the things (and probably a majority of things) that affect our attitudes and feelings about a business are 'small' things. Many of those small things are commonly taken for granted. I'll give you some examples of what I mean:

  • Restrooms. It's one of my pet peeves for businesses. So many I go into have poorly maintained restrooms, even sometimes being out of paper, broken sinks, no soap, etc. Many of them are multi-million dollar businesses, yet they just don't think about the small important things. How expensive can that be to keep it up? It is expensive not to keep it up, because I choose to not do business there, so whatever it costs is a bargain. I applaud some like Starbucks, McDonald's and others who make sure this is taken care of almost every hour on the hour. I love Starbucks for that and they get a lot of my business, but I can assure you that if the restrooms weren't clean, I would stop doing business there. It is amazing how important this 'little' thing can be--and I'm more tolerant than many!

  • How the phone is answered and how the call is handled. When you want the phone to ring and then don't take extremely good care of the caller, what does that say about your business? Does it make a difference? Unquestionably. Without a doubt. Absolutely. My pet peeve here is getting voice mail when I don't want voice mail, I want to talk to a living, breathing, intelligent person. Sending people to voice mail without their consent is pure laziness and lack of care. I see big businesses blowing this as well as small businesses. Think of what money is spent to get the caller, then watch it be lit on fire as the phone is answered. Or not.

  • Respect. Don't sell them things they don't want or need. Think long term customers not short term customers. Think repeat and referral business!

  • Understanding and human courtesy. I talked with two companies and needed assistance and a solution that maybe I wasn't considering. One gave me the standard answers that I didn't need or want to hear. They quoted the rules and regulations and. . . you know, how it is here. The other, was kind, polite, understanding, even sensitive and absolutely gave me a solution that solved the problem within the hour. Guess who gets more of my business? Guess who I tell? Everyone!
The Golden Rule is not dead. It is alive and well and it is still the best method personally or in business. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Offer products that you will buy. Provide services that you want to have. Create the experience that you want to have. Create innovation to continually improve and expand to offer and do more on behalf of your customers. A successful formula in any business.

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