Is “Have It Your Way” At The Crossroads?
A retail company implements a major customer-focused initiative. In order to meet the demands of rising operating costs, they embark on a revenue-creation strategy. Through identifying their core values, their mission, and their operations, they create a customer culture that permeates everything they do and sets them apart as a leader in their industry. In spite of the increased costs, the company feels that the extra revenues generated will create a more robust bottom line; the ROI is more than justified in their opinion. Their culture going forward will focus on the customer experience, as the customer is their most important value.
Meanwhile a similar retail organization creates a company-wide cost-cutting plan. Due to the higher costs of labor and benefits, insurance, distribution, and inflation, this otherwise profitable company considers revenue-increasing initiatives as well, but in the end determines that they need to head off the increasing costs of doing business. As a result, customers and companies that do business with them will need to accommodate the new buying cycles, minimum order thresholds, return policies, fees, and other processes this company implements to save money.
Thus, one company seeks to accommodate the customer to increase revenues, while the other company requires their customers to accommodate them in managing and defraying costs.
These two real examples, which apply to every industry, are a microcosm of the decisions by businesses today. We seem to be at a crossroads of being competitive and profitable versus being customer-driven and showing experience differentiation. Thus the question is raised:
Where does the “Have It Your Way” customer experience really stand today?
Back in the 1970’s Burger King’s slogan of “Have It Your Way” gained traction in making their brand one of accommodating their customers. Their classic campaign and culture change highlighted their focus on the customer, which occurred during a phenomenal growth period or revenue and brand awareness for the chain.
40 years later, most companies face one of the two paths outlined in the above examples.
Many industry experts will state that we are in a “customer experience” economy, where the differentiation of service, customization, and accessibility (mobile or physical presence) that creates the most value for the customer is the one that will succeed in today’s marketplace. Yet the trend is increasing in the opposite way as well, where many companies try to increase their margins by placing the burden of work on the customer (high minimum orders, extra fees, policy rigmarole) to cover their costs.
Which company would you rather buy from: the one who tells you how to purchase from them, or the one that let’s you tell them how to honor your request?
The reality of ever-increasing costs and the vying for that competitive edge – both in market share and profit margin – is not lost in either of these scenarios. But those organizations that have a clear vision, and who know that their longevity lies with satisfied customers and not solely on internal business decisions, will create that sustainable base of customers who will be there when their competitors have long abandoned their customers and folded.
Leaders in every organization must resist the pull to turn their backs on customer experience and set themselves to succeed by giving a level of service that no other company can deliver. By structuring your business model around a core culture of customer connection, your organization will ensure the customer will “have it their way“.