The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Breakthrough Business Isn't Hard

By Brian H Meredith

From the NZBusiness Magazine"Marketing Maestro" Archive
First published March 1999

During the past decade or so, the subjects of marketing, relationship marketing, customer service, excellence, TQM, ISO, stakeholderism and a whole lot of other stuff have rapidly gained ground on the battlefield of business and management thinking, learning and writing.

The Textbooks are full of it. The learned journals are full of it. The seminar circuits are full of it. And the consultants are full of it (but then we are always full of something!).

Businesses and their people are taught and encouraged to adopt these principles. Systems, methodologies and technologies are developed to assist businesses and their people to adopt these principles.

And the promises that are made in marketing communications materials from advertising to literature and every point in between promise customers and prospects alike that they will benefit both now and in heaven from the fact that businesses and their people have adopted these principles.

In the light of all this stuff, why is it (and is it just in New Zealand? Or, is it, indeed, just me?) that the every day business of doing business and interacting with businesses and organisations in general is now so incredibly, irritatingly and energy draining(ly) difficult?

You know what I mean don’t you? You experience it yourself, don’t you?

It starts with the ubiquitous, disembodied tones of the automated telephone system that is designed to ensure that the people inside an organisation don’t have to be bothered with the distractions of the outside world (distractions like customers, prospects and the like).

It is then picked up with awesome aplomb by the voice mail of the person that you have asked to talk to. They are “not available right now” (god knows what they are doing because they haven’t been available for the past two years that you have been dealing with this person in this organisation!).

“Please leave your name and number and I’ll get right back to you” they say.

They lie.

You can now expect to wait hours or even days for this person to “get back to you” – if, in fact, they ever do.

Breakthrough Business Tip No 1:

Answer the phone!

(In fact, kick out the automated system now and replace it with people – you will really breakthrough with this strategy!)

Breakthrough Business Tip No 2:

If you have to put voice mail on, have the common human decency to return calls.

Here’s the next irritant:

The amount of travelling I am doing currently is high. Car Rentals form a large part of my working week. I am a member of one of the major company’s VIP Customer Schemes. Every time we try to book a car, the rate offered to such highly regarded Customers is always (and I mean without exception) the most expensive available. Every other rate is cheaper (e.g. the AA Rate, the Golden Wing Rate, the Weekend Rate, the “Book it on a Tuesday when the sun is shining and a full moon is on the way” Rate.)

Frequently ask the rental company why. No satisfactory answer received to-date.

Breakthrough Business Tip No 3:

If you really care about your Preferred Customers, then offer them something more than a little plastic card that gets them their keys a bit quicker.

On the same theme, we have recently asked another major rental company to send us an Application Form for their Preferred Customer Scheme.

That was three weeks ago. Nothing received at the time of writing.

Breakthrough Business Tip No 4:

If you promise to do something (for anyone, not just a customer or prospect) then do it! A promise made is a debt unpaid!

Breakthrough Business Tip No 5:

If a potential customer comes to you and tries to do business with you, neh, tries to do regular, frequent business with you, let them! (maybe even make it easy?)

Talking of travel, here’s another no-brainer.

You arrive at an airport an hour or so before your scheduled, late evening flight. You want to get a magazine to read or, perhaps, purchase a small gift for a missed loved one or a child you haven’t seen for a week or more.

The shops are all closed.

They keep something close to High Street hours.

Silly you. You thought they would be open at all times that the Airport is open. You old fool! Don’t you realise we are now in the marketing centric, customer conscious nineties! Or, perhaps not.

Breakthrough Business Tip No 6:

Try and get your head around being available to do business when your customers are. (And a message for Airport Companies – how about making it a requirement that concessions in your Airport remain open until the last flight of the day has boarded?)

And there’s more but space availability requires me to stop at this point.

Suffice it to say that the new Millennium is going to have to be characterised by a dramatic return to basics in business in this fair nation if we are not to end up with a business sector that does little more than aspire to mediocrity  (and irritate the hell of of customers and those who might be trying to become customers).


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