Would people miss you if you were gone? This is the big value question. Businesses talk about value all of the time yet they typically equate it with price. However, value is not about price, it’s about getting what you pay for, it’s about being valuable for something, and valuable enough that people will pay what you are asking.
If you want to be the value leader, you have to think about what you do that is remarkable, irreplaceable, something people would miss if it were gone. What does your business do that is valuable? What do you do that people can’t live without? What is it that makes what you do something people can’t get elsewhere?
And your answer better not be product, because products are only valuable until copycats or the next great thing comes along. A better answer would be to look at service as the value creator.
Think about Apple. They came up with the iPhone and it quickly became the phone people couldn’t live without, but now look, there are all kinds of copycats. So what does Apple need to do to become valuable, they need to offer service that no one else can touch.
- They need to make buying an iPhone an enjoyable experience.
- They need to make getting repairs so easy that a 6 year old can manage the process.
- They need to make buying, owning and maintaining the iPhone so easy and enjoyable that Samsung and their other competitors can’t begin to copy it.
Simply put, Apple needs to become more valuable, something people can’t live without…and that doesn’t come with the product, it comes with the service experience.
Question: would customers miss you if you were gone? What do you do that people can’t live without? Why are you valuable?
I was talking to a college professor friend of mine the other day. He had just come back from an international trip where he had facilitated a student experience. During our conversation, he relayed his dismay at how little his students seemed to be grateful for.
The trip he took was to an impoverished area of a developing country. He told me he often finds going to this place gets him back on track by giving him a sense of how lucky he is to live somewhere where there is abundance. He was aghast at how his students’ attitudes were in such stark contrast to his. Instead of talking about how they were blessed, he said they complained incessantly about not having wi-fi, not having hot water every morning for their showers, and on and on and on.
What struck me here was how this attitude has infected so much of our workplace. How many businesses, managers and employees work from the perspective of “I want, I want, I want” rather than “how can I give?” If “I want, I need and I must have” is the predominant attitude, how can we expect to be served well by businesses, how can we expect people to serve us well when we are customers?
We need a shift, we need a culture change, we need to re-think what business is really all about. Is it to take or to give? Is the business of business about “me, me, me” or “we, we, we?” Think about it. What is your business about?
I was in airports a lot in the last couple of weeks and I was able to see both the best and worst of service, mostly the worst. It seems airports and airlines in particular are rife with challenges with regard to service.
One of the biggest challenges I see is a certain sense of entitlement that exists behind the walls of security at the airport. What I mean is a kind of “we’ve got you now, there is nothing you can do” mentality. Once you get through security, you are captive to whatever rules, policies, and terrible service you get…and there is nothing you can do but accept it.
Well, before you think I am going to mount a revolt of travelers screaming for the high level of service they deserve, don’t worry, I am not. What I am going to do is plead for a different mindset; a mindset that is focused on the fact that travelers are the sole reason for the existence of airports and airlines, and serving those travelers and making them successful should be the rally cry for those airports and airlines.
This change of focus in the direction of making customers successful would lift the level of service to a new height as opposed to the current thinking that says, “You’ve paid your money, now take what you get.” My proposal is simply to change the mission of airlines to “we’re here to help you get where you need to go as easily and enjoyably as possible.”
Come to think of it, I believe this would be a good place for many businesses to begin, “we’re here to make you successful as easily and enjoyably as possible.” Imagine that. Think of more businesses thinking that way.
Okay, I am getting carried away, but is this really Utopian thinking or is it just thinking that’s gotten lost in the clouds of short-term wins instead of long-term growth strategy? What about your business? Is it lost in the clouds? Is it working on the “we’ve got you now, there is nothing you can do” premise? How can you make the “we’re here for your success” shift?
What are your priorities? Do I need to ask? If I look at the actions of you or your organization, shouldn’t I be able to determine your priorities in life or business?
In my experience in the business world, it seems most companies talk about their priorities something like this:
- Customer satisfaction
- Employee satisfaction
- Product quality
- Enhanced profitability
However, most businesses demonstrate actions that communicate the following priority list:
- Enhanced profitability
- Product quality, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction…..take your pick.
What I mean is, most companies talk a good line but walk another one, and then they wonder why they struggle to keep customers, struggle to slow turnover rates of employees and struggle to build a solid financial base so that they aren’t constantly chasing profitability. You would think that business would have learned the lesson by now but, low and behold, they just can’t accept something as touchy-feely as the fact that organizations with the best long-term success have a value system that makes people, both customers and employees, the first priority.
This philosophy means that leaders must understand that what they do directly affects what employees do and what employees do directly affects customers. This style of leadership is time consuming and not a quick fix but the results speak for themselves.
Take for example a company like Southwest Airlines. Southwest has always espoused a culture that is employee and customer focused, and it comes directly from the leadership at the top. I have spoken to many of their employees and the overwhelming majority speak about how well they are treated and how it has influenced the way they treat customers. As a regular customer myself, I can vouch for the great service they talk about and to the fact that I rarely see a Southwest employee that seems unhappy. “Yes, but what about Southwest’s financial position?” you may be harrumphing. Southwest to my knowledge has never had an unprofitable quarter in 30 years.
So, what’s your business priority, things, money or people?