Saturday, November 16, 2013

How to Succeed in Business Without Giving a Crap

What is the principal thing a business must do if it wants to stay in business?  Provide good service?  Not really, people's tolerance for crappy treatment is surprisingly high.  Good after sales service?  Actually most people would be very happy never to see the sales staff again as long as the product works.  Create a product that works?  Not if you've got good after sales service.  Produce a valuable product of service to mankind?  Oh dear me no.  If there is one thing history has taught us it is that humans will buy any old crap.

No, what a company must do is meet its customers expectations.  Be they high or low those expectations must be met.  If you want to be all overachieverish about it you can exceed those expectations but if you do you'll find the expectations rise to meet your level of service.  To give you an example of what I mean (which may or may not be taken from real life) consider McDonalds.  When I go to McDonalds I do not expect great service.  I do not expect a friendly ambiance.  I do not expect the person next to me on the communal bench to have bathed in less than a month.  I certainly don't expect the food to bear even the faintest resemblance to the animals and vegetables it was supposedly sourced from.  BUT I DO EXPECT THE FUCKING SOFT DRINK MACHINE TO BE WORKING!!!

The semi trained, semi pubescent person behind the counter wasn't even apologetic.  She just blandly offered me the choice between a thickshake and a bottle of water as though an absence of soft drinks was the most natural thing in the world.  I'm used to drinking water at McDonalds but I'm used to it coming with ice and a small but vital admixture of soft drink flavouring.  I'm opposed to bottled water on principle and it was with a mixture of embarrassment and shame that I washed my burger down with what tasted like plastic flavoured tap water.  It was the first time I've ever walked away from McDonalds feeling disgusted with them rather than myself.

I left disappointed and angry vowing never to return.  Two days later I returned.  I told myself I was just going to see if they had repaired the soft drink machine (they had) and by the time I left McDonalds had regained the position of reluctant tolerance that it normally has in my heart.

Which brings me to my second point.  Any business which consistently fails to meet its customers expectations must be trying very hard not to.

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