When we were doing our business plan, Matthew asked me which was the most important element of the Marketing Mix for The Cheese Mall and after I thought about it for some time, I decided that the ‘People’ is perhaps the most important of the 5 Ps – the Product, Price, Promotion, Place and People. After all, ‘People’ does not refer to our customers but to the people behind the business: the cashiers, the managers, the waiting staff, everyone involved in The Cheese Mall.
I was in a shop recently and was about to buy a product that was listed in one of their advertising leaflets. As the price on the product was different to that in their direct marketing, I queried it with the staff member and although she amended it to the correct price, she made me feel as though I was a bit of a nuisance and a bit silly for fussy about fifty cent. I didn’t have a good feeling when I left the shop and I wondered if I would return.
That is exactly the type of service that I do not want people to receive at The Cheese Mall. As we found when we were researching for our business plan, while the quality of products and service are critical to our success too, if the attitude and behaviour of the front-line staff is poor, it will reflect badly on us. After all, customers can be our best asset but they also tend to tell more people if they receive bad service rather than excellent customer service.
One of our heroes who encapsulates the importance of good customer service has to be Feargal Quinn, from his success developing the Superquinn brand and putting the customer first to the ethos in his book Crowning the Customer. As part of each staff member’s customer training, Matthew gives each of them a copy of this book and we use it to inform our training manual too. Of course, our admiration for Senator Feargal Quinn meant that we were doubly delighted when he endorsed our book The Cheese Mall with a glowing review.
One of my favourite principles that Feargal Quinn talks about is his term ‘the boomerang principle‘ by which he means that if you treat people well, they will come back to buy from you again and again. So many shops and outlets use ‘loyalty cards’ as a means to buy customers loyalty, to persuade them that they will be rewarded the more they spend. It is something that works well and we are looking at developing it with our brand but if our customers don’t receive good customer service, they won’t return no matter how good the price or the rewards.
We have incorporated plans into our business plan to ensure that our customer service is second to none with reminders to review it, test it and ensure training is up to date. Have you emphasised the importance of ‘People’ in your Marketing Mix?