A few days ago, I visited a dry cleaner I’ve been using for a few months now to pick up some clothes. I started commenting on the machine bringing the right clothes when he scanned my receipt. He mentioned that the real cool thing about the machine was that it makes it possible for me to deliver and pick up clothes at any time, 24/7/365. My receipt gives me access to a special entrance, where I then scan it and the machine then brings me my clothes without me being able to take anything else. And I thought, wow – that’s cool and convenient!
This made me think about the war between convenience and personal service. To beat the convenience of 24/7/365 the personal service must be outstanding. Nothing less. However, it also raises a few questions:
If two dry cleaners are both able to let me deliver and pick up clothes 24/7/365, who wins?
If I only meet a machine when delivering and picking up clothes, will I ever build a relationship with this dry cleaner? Will I ever be a loyal customer?
This brings me back to why I even changed dry cleaner a few months ago. I had used my dry cleaner for almost 5 years and liked coming there. They almost always met me with a smile and they got to know me, and my preferences and I knew what to expect of them. However, there were a few inconvenient things about the way they wrapped my clothes, and I was not a fan of their opening hours which conflicted with my work hours. I told the dry cleaner about my problems and even though they went the extra mile for me, the wrapping failed once in a while and the opening hours remained the same.
Even though there were the mentioned problems, I remained a loyal customer for almost five years, only because of the personal service and the relationship we built up over time.
I don’t think this relationship could ever be with a machine or other convenient not existing service. It is the relationship with a human, who smiles and makes me feel special.
So, my conclusion is this:
We live in a time where convenience is winning a lot of business.
Convenience is often based on technology, so basically disruption is just using new technology and inventions to make existing services more convenient.
The old well-known retail saying, “location is everything” was the number one way to be convenient before technology and new inventions made things come closer in other ways than location.
Convenience does not create loyalty. Relationships create loyalty, and relationships can only be made between living organisms. For example, it’s been proven that touching creates relations. So, when you exchange a handshake, high five or a hug, it creates something that you can’t replace with convenience.
At some point the battle will come back to relations and personality, so get ready for that battle. You do that by finding, training and motivating the best people to deliver the best possible personal service; a service that leaves the consumer with a smile every time.
That’s why we created Frontliners. If you want to get ahead, by having the best staff and help them be at their best at all times, you should see this.