The best selling management books, the management gurus who write them and the management consultants who quote from them all agree. Successful businesses treat their customers right. It makes perfect sense if your business relies on repeat customers that a good experience will bring them back. Friendly, helpful staff, willing to “go the extra mile”, a philosophy that the customer is always right and in fact is king. A restaurant needs more than good food it needs good service. A hotel needs more than clean rooms and a relaxing health spar it needs friendly staff. And whatever you’re selling you will sell more if your staff are helpful, friendly and courteous.
The management gurus are fond of citing successful companies who outperform the completion by focusing on the customer. They like to provide little anecdotes usually about US companies like the leading economy airline that has as a stated business strategy “hire people with a sense of humour”.
What the consultants never mention and the gurus ignore is the continued success of those companies with crap customer care. Richard Branson may come across as a nice man who looks after his staff and aims to give his customers a good experience but for every Richard Branson there is a Michael O’Leary who makes a profit out of being a bit of a bastard. His Ryanair makes no pretence at customer care, treats his staff like medieval surfs and his passengers like cattle. He still gets his repeat customers. He gets them because his service is cheap and people want cheap. He is brutally obsessive about keeping costs down, getting passengers to book on line and print off their own tickets, carry minimum fuel and heavily penalise any passenger with anything other than hand luggage, achieving super quick turn round times by stampeding people on to flights. He even charges his staff £25 a month for their uniforms.
So what’s this got to do with the Public Sector? Well haven’t you noticed that despite the rhetoric on customer care the business/management model be it cut staffs wages or close libraries is based on being a bit of a bastard. The aim is to provide the cheapest service, cut admin costs, cut management posts, cut staffing levels, reduce quality and make budget savings.
This article appeared in full in the February edition of the Public Servant magazine.
Blair McPherson author of Equipping managers for an uncertain future published by Russell House www.blairmcpherson.co.uk