Thursday, 12 April 2012

Are Standards of Service Permanently Damaged?

Air travel isn’t what it used to be.  Remember when airlines fed you a meal and didn’t feel the need to charge you an extra $500 or $1,000 to do so?  Being a frequent flier with Air Canada, I have often used my points to upgrade my ticket to executive class.  Sometimes they don’t even serve a meal up front.  It seems you have to be travelling before 9:00AM, or within a few minutes of noon in order to get a hot breakfast or lunch.

Recently I flew up to Yellowknife on First Air.  They, along with Northwest Air provide 737 service from Edmonton to the North, and both provide hot meals to every passenger on every flight.  Do they charge more?  Actually they’re the same, but by the time I booked, First Air was over $300 less than Air Canada.  I’m glad to see that a small company has refused to compromise traditional service.  It would be easy for them to say, “Air Canada and Westjet don’t provide meals, so I guess we don’t have to.”  I’ve become so accustomed to modern-day discount service that I was absolutely blown away that I got fed on these flights.

Let’s start something new.  Stop trying to give good service.  Good service usually means being nice.  Let’s banish the phrase “good service” from our vocabulary.  Great services (plural) implies that there are several outstanding benefits that you lavish on your valued clients.

What are traditional great services in a jewellery store?  Are they warranties, free cleaning and/or polishing, trade-up policies, credit, shopping by appointment, coffee/tea service?  I’m sure you can name others.  Being a small independent retailer, you don’t have to follow the trend to reduced services. 

If you give great services, you don’t always have to give the lowest price.  You may have heard the saying “price, service, quality – pick two.”  If you’ve found a way to deliver all three, let me know.  Another of my favorite sayings is “only one retailer can have the lowest price; all others have to sell on some other merit.”  If you’re all about price, go for it.  I’d much rather be the one who earns a higher price by being generous with great services.

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