I was out running around today. I had a couple of appointments and some errands. It is HOT in southern Indiana right now. A nice big cup of McDonald’s unsweetened iced tea sounded fabulous. I stopped in Sellersburg and went through the drive-through.
Imagine my surprise when I lifted the cup to take a sip and realized there was not a single ice cube in the cup. Not even one small one. It was just room temperature tea, which is nasty. I was going to circle around and go inside to request some ice (a pain, but worth it to not have to drink tepid tea) when I saw a Megabus unloading and heading inside.
Now, imagine where I might go next time I’m out and about and want something to drink. It won’t be McDonald’s. This got me to thinking about the consistency we provide our customers and how it impacts our relationships with our customers.
Why Consistency Is Important
Your customers need to know they can trust you. Let’s say you write a weekly column for a client’s blog. He has to know he can count on you to have that column in each and every week on time and ready to go up for readers. This impacts his reliability with his blog visitors and if you don’t deliver consistently, you are quite likely to be replaced.
Since I do a lot of freelance work managing blogs for clients and managing other writers, I can tell you that this is a real problem in the freelance industry. Some writers spend more time coming up with excuses about why they are late than they do in actual writing. As an editor, trying to juggle scheduling, it can be frustrating for me, too. When asked for feedback on how those writers are doing, I am honest. If someone is a great writer, I tell my client that but I also share any issues with scheduling. My advice is to talk to the chronically inconsistent freelancer and give them a chance to improve, but there is a point where it is in everyone’s best interests to move on.
Consistency in Quality
At the same time, it is important that you produce a quality experience for your customer. Whether you are a writer, a direct sales representative, or you run a brick and mortar or service business, your customer should trust you. This means you need to produce a consistent experience each and every time and it should always be focused on the needs of your customers.
If you write books, then your readers should know they are going to get a good story from you. If you aren’t sure if it is good, get some feedback from others.
If you write articles for clients, turn them in on time, research them well, add extras, such as a bonus infographic you found that they might want to include.
Direct sales are a lot of fun and can help supplement your income so you can stay at home with your kids or begin saving to escape the rat race.
Deliver orders on time. If your company is out of something, go above and beyond to find a replacement or at least communicate the change.
Brick and Mortar
If you run a brick and mortar store, keep regular hours. I used to go to a little cafe here and there. Then, I tried to stop several different times during their business hours and the cafe would be closed. It wasn’t long before I was out of the habit and the next time I checked they were out of business. Customers should be able to count on you to carry specific items and keep regular hours.
It goes without saying that good customer service is key. To make sure customer service is consistent, train all employees in your philosophy and customer service procedures.
By remaining consistent and focusing on the customer, your business, no matter what type, will be much more successful than without that consistency.
Please, do us all a favor, and don’t serve customers iced tea without the iced part. It’s just a poor experience.