Earlier this week I co-hosted an event for Professional Services marketing and BD colleagues where our speaker was Mike Smith, the Marketing Director of Ginsters. Mike talked through the fascinating re-branding and re-positioning journey on which he has taken the brand. As well as talking about new products, packaging and promotional activities, he also talked about how brands, regardless of sector need to be ‘physically and mentally available’ to their customers/clients and I wondered how many companies are actually doing this well?
Physical availability for a product like a pasty might seem like an obvious concept – is it available to buy in a shop or garage when you’re hungry? But it’s more than just that – the products need to be available for the purpose you require. For example, are they easily placed for time-poor people to access easily? Are they in the freezer aisle for busy parents to purchase as a mid-week family meal? This has been a core part of Ginsters’ recent work.
The read across for service industries might not be as easy to identify but in my view, it’s about your clients knowing how to get hold of you when they need you. Is your phone number and email address easy to find? Do your telephone systems make it easy for people to reach you via your switchboard? When you’re not available, how long do people wait for you to return their call? What happens when you’re on holiday – do you leave a named colleague on your out of office voicemail and emails? Whilst these things might seem rudimentary, it’s surprising how many companies aren’t getting the basics right.
In terms of mental availability, Mike spoke about this being the last thing your customers remember about you. Ginsters’ hope is that you remember one of their products as being tasty, satisfying and high quality so that you are likely to repurchase. They have invested heavily in developing new products such as their first vegan pasty and on the provenance of their ingredients to make their brand more inclusive and appealing to today’s buyers.
For non-FMCG companies, I think this is about the service your clients receive from you. Is it proactive? Do you communicate with them in their language and via the channels and platforms they like to utilise? Have you delivered what you promised on time and on budget? Do you regularly ask clients for feedback and if you do, how do you ensure you have acted on their feedback in order to ‘close the feedback loop’ and make the necessary improvements? Again, these are all points that, on the face of it, seem obvious but (by their own admission), many companies are not delivering a consistently high standard of service to their client base.
Service excellence is something I care passionately about and bringing it back to pasties – are your clients satisfied by your offering and service or do they just remember your invoice which leaves a bad taste in their mouth?