Revenue generation. The life blood of ANY organization. It has been pointed out if you are not growing, you are not going anywhere. Yet many organizations focus on so many other things when they should be focusing on the customer.
In my book, “The Corporate Soul Handbook”, I point out that customers are one of the four pillars of a healthy organization. Do you know your target customer demographics, wants, needs, desires? Many organizations need to start there. Identifying their customers so they can then serve them better. Once you establish this, then you work on how you will interact with your customer base.
Few organizations have the resources to have so many ways to touch a customer as Amazon or Wal-Mart. We must remember neither of these organizations started big and complex but now they at least try to be everything for most everyone. As much smaller organizations, it is better to focus your resources on the niche customers that you have identified to serve and then build from there. Trying to be everything for everybody really makes you a less than desirable provider for anything. Many leaders tend to think the only point of contact is the product offering that you sell each day. I want to challenge you to think of your approach on a basis of “points of contact”.
What does your customer base see when they interface with you? How are they cared for before the sell, during the sell and after the sell (all points of contact)? Here’s an easy example to follow regarding a recent experience my family had with a hotel on a trip this summer. You may or may not be in the hospitality industry but think about how this story could relate to your particular organization.
My family reserved two non-smoking rooms at a hotel associated with a large chain on a recent trip. When we arrived, there were few cars in the parking lot but the luggage carts were scattered outside and all the trash bins were full. We walked into the lobby and the concierge desk was empty and, as we approached the check-in counter, the clerk was on her cell phone. After talking for a minute or so she decided to put the phone down (definitely a personal call) and help us. She was short and seemed in a hurry (to get back to visiting with her friend on the cell phone). She did not greet us as a frequent customer although we are members of the hotel franchise’s frequent user club. We got our keys and went to our room and discovered we had smoking rooms. We had to go back downstairs, point out we reserved a non-smoking room and then go back through the check-in process. We found our new rooms to be less than tidy. We left our luggage and went about our family visit. When we returned late that evening, we found the hotel was packed with guests. There was a large sports tournament in town that weekend so there were lots of families staying at the hotel. That night our air conditioning did not work well. We got up early and headed downstairs to the restaurant for breakfast. This was not one of those free buffet breakfasts spots. It was $10.00/per person for the buffet or you could custom order from the menu. The restaurant had quite a few patrons but not every table was full. We got menus but noticed there were not many waiters. We ordered coffee but was told it would be awhile because they had run out of clean cups. With the short staff, we decided to just go through the buffet. Our waiter agreed that would be the best choice because “we are really busy today”. The waiter added, ” I also need to make you aware we are out of bacon and pancakes on the buffet.” Wow! It was at least 2 hours before breakfast service stopped and they were out of food? Did the front desk let the kitchen know they were going to have a high number of guests that day? Did anyone think about running to the grocery store when it even looked like the food shortage might occur 2 hours before breakfast services stopped? Did leadership check to make sure the teams were talking with each other for the good of the customers and the hotel revenue?
I will not go on an on but you can see how this business was not using all of its touch points to generate revenue, loyal customers or goodwill. Let’s look at the touch points and the staff involved:
Initial touch… Outside appearance: Maintenance, bell service, grounds crew/leadership
Lobby… Concierge, training, greeting staff/leadership
Room… Housekeeping, maintenance/leadership
Restaurant… Chef, waiters, dishwashers, front desk/leadership
Simple to see but hard to execute a holistic approach. In every instance… leadership has to be involved. Great leaders can see how the sum of the parts add up to greater than the whole. The larger your organization; the more complex but the more opportunities for revenue enhancements and customer loyalty. That’s the positive. For some, it’s the negative because organizations with poor leaders provide lots of points for disappointing customers. The key thing to remember?… Great leadership, at all levels, who are well-trained, motivated, inspired and who get the importance of a “holistic approach” to the business. These leaders breakdown silos in the organization and focus on strengthening and expanding the pillars. Remember, pillars hold things up while silos just hold things in. Pillars are sharing the load while silos…. well they don’t share anything.
It may be time to look at the touch points your customers have with your organization to make sure they are talking, working, supporting and encouraging one another. Is your purchasing staff talking regularly with your sales staff? Are your inventory managers keeping pace with demand or are you finding under and overstocked items? Who is following up after the purchase? Who is holding all of these people accountable to a high standard while providing training on a proactive basis?
My family will never return to that hotel. We will never brag about the service we received. Future revenue lost because, as a customer, I vote with my $$. Guess what…. so do your customers. Make sure everyone in your organization (especially leadership) sees a circle that encompasses the “holistic approach”. It will help keep everyone focused on your customers who generate that next bit of much needed revenue for you.
Until next time, peace. 🙂