Taking care of a customer is easy. It’s taking care of all customers all of the time that’s tremendously hard. Most companies can't even take care of most of their customers most of the time. And this is why most companies fail to excel at customer service, and thus fail to use it to their competitive advantage.
In Winning, Jack Welch wrote that “variation is evil”. This Six Sigma mantra is as true of service processes, as it is of manufacturing processes.
The customer’s affection for a company can very quickly turn into enmity at the first encounter with inconsistency. Take just two common situations:
- You’re impressed by a salesperson’s knowledge and empathy. You try to buy what she sells, but fall in line for five minutes as a cashier argues with a customer.
- You had a great experience with Store A, at the branch close to your home. The product breaks and you try to get it exchanged at the branch closer to work, where they treat you like a beggar because "the receipt clearly states that you have 14 days to exchange a product, and you’re one week too late".
Very quickly, you swing from appreciation to disdain. And this is how variation kills us.