Customer Service

Customer Service

Part of customer service is consistency. If you are running a sponsorship program, you must be fair and equitable to all. If sponsor A spends $10,000, they should get $10,000, or close to it, in value (perhaps a little more). The sponsor who spends $25,000 should get $25,000 (or so) in value. This means you have to know what you have to sell and what it is worth to be fair and equitable. Otherwise, it will come back to haunt you!

Likewise, if you own a movie theatre, you need to have consistent pricing. Adults pay a certain amount, youth a certain amount, and seniors perhaps a different amount. Sure, you can have special offers on certain days or at certain times, but for your independent or national theatre, you need to have some consistency.

Then, when you “grow” and are selling sponsorships for multiple events or have several theatres, that consistency model really needs to be consistent, though actual pricing may change market to market. When I worked for Red Lobster, it was important that, when you went to a Red Lobster in Toronto, Toledo, or Tokyo, you got a consistent product. A “BPLT” or a Broiled Fisherman’s Platter had a piece of broiled fish, shrimp scallops, and Icelandic lobster. A Big Mac in Calgary is the same as a Big Mac in NYC. We expect consistency. It is part of the guest or customer experience.

The reason I bring this up is because I was actually discussing consistency with a client in a Starbucks the other day and was able to use the inconsistency of Starbucks product offerings approach as an example. I was trying to drive home the point that the client had several staff members selling sponsorships. Each had their own style and approach, which is fine, but they all had to be able to offer the same things at the same prices. One salesperson could not offer assets at a price lower than the others, nor could one have different assets altogether. Fulfilment had to be the same—consistent reporting and delivery of assets and outcomes. The consistency you offer sets you apart as an organization. It allows people to know they are being treated fairly and equitably. I also noted that you need to be flexible, and do what is right and makes the customer happy, but not unfairly to others or in a scenario that costs you money!

My analogy with Starbucks was perfect timing. I don’t drink coffee. I drink tea. At Starbucks, I stick to one type of tea and order it in a certain way. I drink the Jade Citrus green tea. It is a Teavana product, because Starbucks now owns Teavana and has for a few years (they dumped the Tzao brand when they bought Teavana). I ask for a single bag in a Venti (extra large) cup. I only want one bag. And I want to pay for only one bag. (One of the reasons I go to Starbucks is that they typically allow me to have a big cup and just one teabag in it, and charge me for one teabag. Tim’s won’t allow that. So, I try not to go there if I am looking for a tea. Donuts? Oh, yes—but not tea.) When Starbucks first launched the Teavana line, they did force customers who wanted an “extra large” to take two tea bags and charged them for two. But the pushback was strong, and within three months, Starbucks let people order the single bag in the Venti cup. I actually spoke with a regional supervisor who said the company had notified all areas in NA that a single bag in a Venti cup, when specifically ordered as such, would be charged as a single bag of tea versus two. Customers let the shop know what they wanted and the company rightfully agreed.

Recently though, Starbucks had to “semi admit” that the acquisition of Teavana was not really working out. In fact, by the end of this year, Teavana will have closed all its retail locations and will look at other avenues of retailing the product other than just through Starbucks stores. This particular day, in a Starbucks I had not been into before, the person behind the counter told me I could not order a single bag in a Venti cup. I would have to order two bags and pay the premium for it. I argued, but they did not relent. They did say that their area supervisor had been in and told everyone that, because the failure of the Teavana stores situation, they could no longer do a single bag in the Venti cup. They needed to push the additional sales. Yikes! I figure that it was a rogue supervisor, because no other stores are doing that. In fact, a few days later, that store wasn’t either. But talk about annoying a customer! Annoying that customer (me) enough to rant about it in a blog.

So, in your shop, be it a development shop, sponsorship shop, retail shop, or professional services shop, ensure you are doing things consistently. Don’t change what is working in a single scenario location and break the consistency. Secondly, build your policies on profit, but also what the customer needs and wants. Otherwise, it may affect your profits!

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