Striking the balance between individualized service or care, and standardized or consistent approaches, is a conundrum for most businesses.
Yet, at the same time, suppliers strive for consistency and repeat-ability and they create the systems, processes, procedures and methods that seek to deliver this.
Where does that leave the expectant mother on a maternity ward with clinical complications, or heightened emotional needs?
Where does that leave the diner with high cholesterol and special dietary needs in his local restaurant?
Where does that leave the small company buying from a large supplier who has minimum order quantities?
Where does that leave the short person with a predilection for food products that can only be found on the high shelves in their supermarket?
Businesses thrive on the notion of customer average. As long as we fit the norm (or within very close parameters) we can be served. If we fall outside that, we’re stuffed! It feels like a ‘take it or leave it’ approach not dissimilar to Henry Ford’s famous saying, “You can have it in any colour as long as it’s black”.
Our national institutions are guiltier of this than those operating in the tough, competitive commercial world. But we rub up against too many instances where we simply aren’t catered for by the companies we try to buy from.
IT and technology is an area where most of us have at some time experienced enormous frustration.
Is it possible to provide a bespoke service (that takes full account of customer diversity) whilst at the same time ensuring that the business is profitable and manageable?
We have to believe that the answer to this question is ‘Yes’, because the alternative is too grim for words. But just supposing we aren’t convinced yet? What then?
It’s great in these situations to ask a well-framed, provocative question. Here it is:
“What if it were true that (insert the relevant assertion here)? How would this change we way we operated?”
The answer will be different depending on your organisation and the words you insert in the brackets. The question this article would ask is:
“What if it were true that it IS possible to provide a bespoke service (that takes full account of customer diversity), whilst at the same time ensuring our business is profitable and manageable? How would this change we way we operated?”
So any move towards more and more standardization must provide those people who wish to serve us with the freedom to truly customize their service. It’s the companies that recognize and respond positively to this that will thrive. Don’t be average. I’m not! And I could be one of your customers.