We recently held a seminar, or forum as we call it, for the short-term and long-term rental sectors.
Spread over two days, the seminars were highly successful and among many other points illustrated some of the key elements in both service and value. I believe that we were able to supply both to our ‘customers’, our members, in the same way that they can supply them to you. Among our speakers, three stood out in talking about service and value.
One was from the Institute of Customer Service and two were fleet managers. All three made a broadly similar point.
Provide great customer service and value for money and you’ll get, and keep, the business. In terms of service, I believe that people matter most. While technology and systems may help in providing solutions to some problems it can cause others.
Take, for example, telephone answering systems. How often have you rung a company only to be switched through three or four menus before giving up in frustration because you cannot find a choice that matches your query?
Why should we feel that they will magically work for our industry when they are so obviously hated by customers in, for example, the financial industry.
About 80% of customers believe that service decreases with the introduction of such a system. At the end of the day, it is people who count and the best people deliver the best service. Equally true is the fact that most successful organisations have one thing in common – the importance they place on their people. People who are empowered to deal with customers, who are given authority and responsibility to make decisions. And the result? Great customer service – the real differentiator between suppliers.
And now value. The Oxford Dictionary gives at least a dozen meanings for value but only one is directly applicable here and I paraphrase – ‘Reasonable or equivalent return, satisfaction: value for money.’ I think this just about says it all. It’s a ‘reasonable’ return, not excessive, not miserly but reasonable. And it talks about value for money.
Of course, value does not equal price. We all know that. The cheapest deal, in whatever field you operate and however attractive it may look, is rarely the best deal. The cheapest price often accompanies the lowest service and if you focus just on one you all too often get the other.
Organisations driving their sales forward purely on price will enjoy success in the short term. But a fleet manager’s needs are long- term. He, and increasingly, she, is looking for a long-term relationship, a relationship in which both parties can prosper and where there is stability and consistency plus flexibility to meet the changing needs of the business.
Such needs can only be met by the supplier having the best people in place over the longer term and people who can provide the service that you need at the best value available.