The secret sauce in a relationship that has customers coming back every time.
The secret sauce in the client relationship, that keeps them coming back
by Rob Keogh | 12 March 2017
It is not a surprise really. The things your customers want from you, are exactly the same as what you want from your teams. They want the process of working with you to be as easy as possible and they want No Surprises!
Customer expectations on these two points are pretty consistent, whether you are a tradesman, running a construction project, or serving up pizza. Easy to work with and no surprises is the secret sauce, that will keep clients coming back, time after time.
It sounds pretty straight forward, but to achieve that, requires a line-in-the-sand decision, to open your business to total operational transparency. Some business owners will struggle to cross that line. Don Meij, CEO of Domino's Australia is one business leader that is not shy in displaying his commitment to his customers.
The new Domino’s App released early 2016, provides amazing customer service features. It makes it more simple to order. It takes just two taps on your phone and you can even order straight from an Android Smart Watch. It is convenient, you can schedule your pizza preparation, so it comes out of the oven as you enter the store. The Domino’s live pizza tracker, will even send you live push notifications and display the progress of your order, while it is being driven down your street.
While these features are pretty interesting, none of it is really news to most of us. In an era of uber-fication of services, we seem to simply absorb, even amazing leaps in technology-driven service features, as they quickly establish new norms in performance expectation.
So why does all this present a line-in-the-sand moment for your business? Well imagine every aspect of your company’s performance delivery, open and available to be tracked and scrutinised in real time. Imagine a client being able to monitor progress every day, through all stages to completion. Would they see things you might not want them to see? Of course they would. At least at first.
About ten years ago, I developed a marketing operations dashboard, so our major brand clients could place orders, manage projects and track deliveries. None of our competitors had anything like it. Up to that point, performance delivery in operations and logistics was a game of smoke and mirrors. No-one knew when goods were received, if they were in the warehouse, if the order was actually dispatched or where it was at any point in its journey. There were always plenty of other parties to divert blame. Some managers would claim a late delivery was the freight company’s fault, when you investigate you find the order hadn’t even been packed. Real-time product or order tracking are today standard expectations in operations logistics.
The change process however, was resisted across the business. An interesting thing happens soon as each person at every stage, knows they can be held accountable. They just stop stuffing around and they actually do their job. If something happens that will impact performance, they tell you straight away so that you can share their problem. In my experience, the first couple of months was a massive learning experience, then execution improved out of site. Our marketing operations dashboard was directly responsible for us retaining our major clients over many years, at premium industry rates.
Two things happened as a result real-time transparency; Our client relationships became cemented in trust and our team’s performance lifted to set new benchmarks that were difficult for our opposition to match.
See, customers usually understand there will be problems, they just don’t like surprises or bulldust. In the pizza delivery business, the driver’s time on the road was a black hole as Don Meij, of Domino's describes; “In the delivery business, it’s a dark spot, Now, it’ll be fully disclosed and transparent."
Geo-tracking a pizza provides a novel feature that you might use a few times then forget about. However that feature represents absolute trust. You know if you ever need to check, you will be able to see exactly what is going on. In a relationship between a business and a customer, that trust is gold.
For Domino’s, closing the “dark spot” in delivery, not only made drivers speed, safety and performance totally accountable, it removed the wiggle room for blame shifting. Closing that gap made every worker and franchise accountable.
The result was, during an 18 month test of the technology, driver "incidents" fell 50 per cent. In an industry where time seems to be measured more than taste, minutes were shaved off performance standards. Mr Meij believes Domino’s data collection, “will empower the company to make good on its promise of a 10-minute national average.”
“Our drivers now hustle when they’re being tracked,” Mr Meij said. But tracking the in-store process had revealed that “unfortunately some franchisees told us a time that was inaccurate; our pizza spent more time on the rack and car park than on the road,” a reality he described as “scary”.
“Crunching rack time” and getting drivers moving quicker had allowed Domino’s Palm Beach store on the Gold Coast to achieve a nine minutes and 49 seconds average, he said. Over the next two-to-three years, the focus will be on expanding this success across Australia, which has a 22-minute delivery average (down from the previous 27 minutes).
In the pizza business, time translates as a service standard and a measure of store efficiency. That is true in most businesses, but for many it is also a billable commodity. Some companies leak costs, because they pay for more time than teams or contractors actually deliver. The impact is not only in service standards and customer relationships, but potentially in thousands of dollars leaking from projects every week. From my own experience, I can highly recommend digital applications that track time and measure performance, as well as the huge benefits of total operational transparency.
Article references: News.com.au 10 June 2016 & SMH May 2015