By Darren Evans, founder and design director of The Engine Room
Maybe I’m just getting old, but what is it about UK service delivery that just seems to miss the mark?
After a recent experience, when my (seemingly modern) boiler broke down, my family was without hot water for over a week. I’m a “sensible” chap and had “sensibly” taken out boiler insurance in the hope of averting this crisis and assuring household peace and cleanliness.
The headlines: boiler breaks down Wednesday. Call the engineer Thursday. They visit the following day (so far, so good). A new pump is required, but won’t arrive until Monday (bit frustrating). They don’t have another appointment to fit it until the following Thursday (very frustrating). In the meantime, far too many cold showers add to my general middle-aged grumpiness.
So, why do I feel the need to write about this? Because I believe that in today’s high-speed world, where we know the customer comes first, this just doesn’t need to happen.
I won’t name and shame the company in question, but they’re a well-known brand who spend a significant amount of money on promotion. But what’s the point if you can’t get the customer experience right?
Good service doesn’t just happen. It must be thought about. It has to be designed and it’s those businesses that take this seriously and put their end users first that are the ones who succeed.
Design your business from the outside-in, not vice versa. It’s not about the fact that your engineers don’t work weekends. It’s the fact that your customers need your services at weekends. There are ways around this.
Businesses have proven they can make things work. My wife ordered a handbag from Amazon on Saturday night and it arrived on Sunday morning! Big tick. (For the speed and efficiency of service, not the purchase of another handbag.)
How often do these poor service companies spend time with their customers? It’s about understanding their entire journey with you, from discovering you to experiencing your service, and how they feel post-service. Get out and shadow your customers for a day. See what it’s like to be in their shoes.
The companies that are doing this are stealing a march. Listen to customers’ feedback. Act on it. Invest in excellent service rather than a first-class website that sets a great expectation but the experience doesn’t match up.
This isn’t just the service sector either, it’s also manufacturing businesses. The famous quote “only one company can be the cheapest, the others must use design” (Rodney Fitch) has never been more true. Manufacturers investing in service and delivery excellence are the ones that are standing out with more future opportunities.
If we get things right, we might find we’re also designing growth into our businesses, building customer loyalty and gaining more repeat business as your reputation soars. Otherwise, customers will leave you for a competitor who is no doubt already knocking on their door.
Darren Evans is the founder and design director of The Engine Room, a Huddersfield design company.