Why consistency and continuity of service is important

 

Castries, St. Lucia, where the people rely on our Fair Trade

Shopping for essentials

As consumers, when we are out shopping we have an expectation of what we can buy. We do not like to be disappointed to find that what we want we can no longer get.

At our local supermarket I have had some disappointments recently. I rather liked their own-brand baked beans, but they have obviously changed their supplier and now although the label and packaging look the same, the product is different and inferior. However the price is the same.

At the same supermarket, I rather liked their Fair Trade tea. We try to support Fair Trade in our household as do so many.  The supermarket, the one owned by Walmart, seems to have stopped stocking their own-label Fair Trade tea or indeed anyone else’s. I have to go elsewhere to “do my bit” with regard to tea.

Retiring iGoogle

Then again I really find iGoogle useful. It aggregates so much of my stuff, and yet iGoogle is being retired next year. From their comment we can see that they are not really offering anything else as a proper substitute. I do not pay Google anything currently, but maybe they could make iGoogle subscription based and keep it on. I do give them the use of my stuff in return for the use of theirs.

Maybe I could use an assortment of Google’s other products, but it is a bit like being told you must wear a digital watch rather than an analogue one. So many people prefer analogue, and so many people might want all their web-based stuff in one place, which is not on their phone. And yes, I like my Android phone, but I am not alone in feeling abandoned

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Choices spoiled

People like choice, and having made a choice they do not like to be told they cannot have their preferred offering any more.

Of course commercial decisions have to be made and if there is a fall in demand we cannot expect to always get what we like. Perhaps the supermarket and Google felt they had to make changes on commercial grounds, but it is important to offer customers a viable alternative.

Be consistent

As long as a product or service is popular, our customers and clients should have a reasonable expectation that we will carry on supplying it. We must take into account their preferences and cater for minor differences as far as we can. We should not chop-and-change because it confuses our customers and our audience prospects. Chopping-and-changing would make us look unreliable.

If I like to buy something regularly and rely on a supplier, I don’t like to find that I cannot get it any more, or to have to go elsewhere, because I may take all my custom to that other place.

Do you miss being able to buy something you always liked in the past?

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Being in business is not a game

I hope you enjoy running your business. I know I enjoy running mine. Business should be fun and give pleasure and a sense of achievement, as well, of course, as making money.

It might come as a surprise to some of you that there are people who just play at business. They enjoy what they do and may have a special talent. However, somehow they are easily diverted and want to do too much. They may want to dabble in some other activity which means they do not have the time to devote to their main business, which is of course their main source of income. They may decide to go on an extended holiday or take a sabbatical. Now that is OK if they have other good people to “look after the shop” while they are away, but often a small service business is about the person, and clients buy the business owner as much as the service they provide.

Customers or clients of a business like that need to feel special, to talk to the owner. Indeed the owner should keep in touch, check how they are if they have been quiet and generally give them a feeling of security. If the business owner is not always available or even goes away for a couple of months or half a year, the customers or clients will find someone else. What’s more, they won’t come running back when the owner returns.

So if you have a business which is all about you, your personality and your talents, you need to take care of your business and be there when needed. That applies whether you offer commercial photography, graphic design, Swedish massage or hairdressing. Look after your clients and give them continuity, because if you don’t they will feel neglected. You will lose their trust and probably won’t get them back again.

We are all entitled to have fun, but business is not a game; it is deadly serious.

(C) Jon Stow 2010