A new way to serve customers
“Ruling through service is the secret of success.” From the I Ching, the Book of Changes, the oldest Chinese book of wisdom, from the second century BCE.
Here in our European latitudes the belief prevailed for a long time that, at least in comparison with some other regions of the world, that we’re slowly moving from a service desert to a service savannah. Recent experiences have convinced me otherwise, however.
Allow me to clarify one point first, however. The sentiment that an entrepreneur should always put his customers first leaves me as cold as it probably does many others. If you bow down before your customers you’ve already made the first mistake.
Your job is simply to offer a good product or service at a good price and on time – and on an equal footing. Everything else is wishful thinking from both sides. As Audrey Hepburn said – “you have two hands. One to help yourself, and the one second to help others.”
However, this law of balance hasn’t seemed to work anymore since 2020. As a business traveller I know that delays on trains and planes are part of everyday life – which this wasn’t always the case before the Covid-19 upheaval. What’s new now, however, is this type of message, as I heard recently at a French airport after a delay was announced. “We’d like to remind you that abusing our employees is punishable by law.”
Now anyone who has stood in a long queue for ages is perfectly aware that such statements are written in blood. Nevertheless, it seemed a little out of balance to me that there wasn’t even an apology forthcoming for the lack of service. The same spirit is behind the term ‘empowering the active consumer’. The principle of communicating with a machine, checking-in for a flight yourself or configuring a service online via an app is now well-established – even in luxury fields.
Any claims that the service will thus be cheaper or that a more personal service is also available if required usually remains just that – a (hollow) claim. But what do you do if you’re one of those die-hards who insists on the mutual commitment of the customer and the service provider?
True luxury, as we know, isn’t having all the money you need, but all the time. I’d rather stand in said queue than line up for the self-scanner – true to the motto of the veteran entrepreneur Arthur F. Sheldon. “They who serve best benefit most.”