A Park Place–like attitude toward service does not have to date from a company’s first days. Companies not originally built around a customer satisfaction framework can change, building the structure and culture necessary for the kind of premium service that accompanies a successful luxury brand. The change should use the four principles to reenergize employees, establish new levels of customer loyalty, and drive superior growth and long-term profitability. Companies that set out to make tangible shifts in each of these domains find they reinforce one another in a virtuous circle that allows the company to change with increasing momentum.
The road is not an easy one, of course, and the details of implementing and overseeing these principles will vary from one company to the next. Employees who have been successful in an environment where other goals were paramount may be slow to embrace customer satisfaction initiatives. When company leaders begin emphasizing new, customer-centric values, some employees will react skeptically and need to be won over; others may resist and need to be let go, even at the cost of losing high producers.
In the end, however, the journey toward achieving high levels of customer satisfaction is clearly worth making, even with internal resistance. The necessary perseverance and focus may take time to pay off. But when employees recognize that they are valued and share in the rewards, they can commit themselves wholeheartedly to the company’s mission. That, in turn, will demonstrate to outsiders that the company not only has set strong values but also lives by them, and that these values make possible a growing reputation for premium products and service. Companies that deliver at high standards enjoy strong customer loyalty. And that customer loyalty, in turn, drives superior growth and profitability while reinforcing and perpetuating the underlying culture. You will know you have set that virtuous circle in motion when you recognize one day that customers are coming to buy your product at a premium price, expecting superior service and getting it. Before they walk in the door, they probably won’t know precisely what superior service means; but they’ll know it when they see it.
Reprint No. 07103
Robert Reppa (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a principal with Booz Allen Hamilton based in Chicago. He works with automotive and industrial products companies and focuses on growth strategy and sales and marketing effectiveness.
Evan Hirsh (email@example.com) is a vice president with Booz Allen Hamilton based in Cleveland. He works with automotive and industrial products companies and focuses on business strategy and marketing and distribution channel strategy and management.