Say what you want about Walmart, they know their customers and they know how to service them with excellence. As Frances Frei and Anne Morriss, authors of Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business explain, Walmart customers want lots of product variety and really low prices. These are the things that are most important to them. Conversely, Walmart does not waste much energy on the things their customers want the least, including personal service and quality lighting and a comfortable, inviting environment.
On the flipside, Frei and Morriss point out how amazingly successful the airline industry as a whole has been at completely missing the boat (pun intended) on the delivery of quality customer service. They are like the USPS of air travel, with one simple directive: Just deliver the package! But they can’t do it. They arrive late, they depart late, they lose luggage, and they treat you like a family burden. In fact, according to Frei and Morriss, only two airlines seem to get it – Southwest and Virgin – and coincidentally they are the only two profitable airlines in the industry.
So, ask yourself right now, what is most important to your customers? And what is least important to them? And how are you delivering on both ends? It may seem counterintuitive or paradoxical, but it is essential to excel at delivering what your customers want most and to fail at delivering what they want least.
And it all begins by knowing who your customers are and what is most important (and least important) to them. Which also means you need to conduct research, and you must be open to the possibility of completely changing your mindset and quite possibly your entire approach to customer service… and maybe even your business model.
But in the words of Steve Jobs, to be successful, you must be willing to think different and if necessary, cannibalize your own business with better products and services – the ones your customers want the most.