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Value Creation Blog

Do Your Trains Run On Time?

Posted by Josh Patrick

On schedule resized 600One of the biggest frustrations I face is when I plan to travel and my mode of transportation is late.  This provides a significant amount of stress for me.  I bet it might do the same for you.

I use this metaphor when I think about my, or for that matter any, business.  I often find myself asking the question, “Do the trains run on time and if the answer is no, why not?” 

Your company needs operational excellence

This is not a goal anymore; it’s the price of entry.  If your company doesn’t provide its customers with operational excellence, you’re likely going to be in a price war.  Unless you’re the airlines, you can’t afford to abuse your customers with poor service.

In the private business world there are just too many choices.  Your customers will leave you if you don’t provide an experience that is at least what they expect every time they do business with you.

You might want to ask yourself about the last time you went to that new restaurant in town.  The food was OK and the service was a little less than expected.  Are you going to go back again?  I know that when I try a new restaurant they rarely get a second chance if they weren’t good on both food and service.

It’s not only operational excellence but also consistency

One of the challenges that I see smaller businesses having is not providing systems for its people to follow.  The better your systems, the more consistent service you can provide.

I know, it’s just no fun putting systems together.  I can tell you that the truly great companies like Disney map out their entire customer experience.  Their cast members are trained with what to do and how to set expectations for their guests.  Do you do this with your customers?  If not, you need to think about what consistency means for your customers and why they might value it.

Do you think about your customer experience?

Pine and Gillmore wrote a great book called The Experience Economy.  They maintain that the great companies in the future will make themselves unique by the experience they provide for their customers.  Businesses that think about what their customer experience is and then design ways to delight their customers will be future winners.

I can tell you that I’m willing to pay more money and be more loyal to companies that provide me with an experience that is not only consistent but surprises me with how I’m treated.  Think about the great experience you had Nordstrom or how Apple’s support people solved your problem and you actually had fun doing it.  For me, both companies continue to earn my loyalty because they continue to delight me by thinking about ways to keep me surprised, and I mean in a good way.

It doesn’t happen by mistake

I believe that great operational ability is not about just making the trains run on time.  It’s about providing a consistent experience and finding ways to delight your customers.  To use another metaphor, it’s all about blocking and tackling.  If your company does this well, you’re likely to have great success.

Great service never happens by mistake.  It only happens when management plans for it and puts system in place to make sure it’s delivered every single time a customer comes in contact with your company.

What about your company?  Are you planning for consistency and excellence?  If not, why not?  It’s really the only way to move to strategic excellence.

We have a special report on key metrics in your business.  This report will help you figure out how to measure the important things in your company for improvement.  Providing excellence for your customers includes measurement as well as systems.  To get this report, click on the button below.


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Topics: systems, value creation, Client Experience

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