The Monday Morning Memo: The Extraordinary People Myth

Monday-Morning-Memo-Logo1By Roy H. Williams

It’s like you’ve asked him to defend his religion; the business owner who believes in growing his businesses through exceptional service delivered by extraordinary people gets testy when you ask him to name a business that has successfully employed this strategy.

MemoIt’s like trying to convince a believer there is no God.

I’ve encountered dozens of business owners who believed in their hearts they had extraordinary employees.

None of them ever did.

Properly enforced systems, methods, policies and procedures allow a company to get exceptional actions from ordinary people. If your business requires you to attract and retain extraordinary people, you’ve got a dangerous business model.

And then there’s the Exceptional Service Myth:

“If we give our customers exceptional service, they’ll tell all their friends.”

My response:

“No, they won’t. Not in large numbers, anyway.”

“But we get comments and letters every day from customers raving about the service we gave them.”

“Good service leads to customer loyalty but it doesn’t breed word-of-mouth. Most people assume any plumber can fix the pipes, any electrician can solve the electrical problem and any retail store will accept the return of a defective item with a smile. We take competence for granted. We tell their boss when an employee has delighted us. That’s how we reward the employee. We tell our friends when a company has disappointed us. That’s how we protect our friends. Most people feel they’ve settled the service debt when they praise the employee to their boss. But they hesitate to tell their friends because they can’t be certain their friends will encounter the same employee.”

“But our competitors are dishonest and incompetent and we’re not! You just need to help us educate the customer.”

“I’ve been down that road dozens of times during the past 30 years. You’re not going to like where it leads.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve spent millions of dollars of other people’s money trying to convince the public they should buy from my clients because my clients were more honest, cared more deeply and were committed to delivering an extraordinary buying experience.”

“How did that turn out?”

“Most customers assume you’re trying to direct attention away from the fact that your prices are too high. When the occasional customer does believe your claims, you’ve usually raised their expectations so high that you can’t possibly live up to the picture you’ve painted in their mind. Ads that promise exceptional service don’t increase your sales figures but they do increase your complaints.”

“So what kinds of ads will increase my sales figures?”

I’ll tell you next week.

 

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