What makes service businesses so exciting is that when it comes to services, inefficient systems abound. Opportunities are everywhere you look.
Product recall systems are about as inefficient as it gets, still relying on news releases, direct mail and mass media – that is, when a recall is dangerous enough to consumer health be picked up by the five o’clock news. If your product is simply defective, you’re out of luck here.
I asked Hen House Market, an absolutely terrific local food & grocery chain, how they distribute recalls.
Spreading the message through informed teammates and social media updates were the top answers. Those likely inform a lot of people, but far from everyone.
I then asked whether they measured the effectiveness of the communications. Sadly, the answer was “no”. (As an aside, if you’re faced with a choice between measuring the effectiveness of your latest direct marketing initiative and the effectiveness of your product recall communications, choose the latter. It isn’t tied to revenue, but it’s better business.)
But interestingly, they also mentioned that to improve the effectiveness of recall messages, they were working on a text message alert system for loyalty program participants. You know – those annoying key chain tags that provide savings on select products, where when you’re filling them out, you wonder, “what are they ever going to do with my cell phone number – call to tell me they’re having a sale on cantaloupe?” Once launched, loyalty program participants would receive text message alerts if they’ve purchased a product on a recall list using their rewards card. Discounting products AND helping prevent me from accidentally killing my dinner party guests? Talk about a loyalty program worth signing up for.
It's a small fix to a long-standing problem. These kinds of service inefficiency problems are so prevalent, most of us don't even think of them. Yet people are addressing them in increasing numbers, using technology in dramatically new ways, whether the local grocery store’s use of text messaging for recall information, or the IBM Watson project, a program devised as an initial salvo in the fight to create better service outcomes through technology.
My own personal request for technology to improve my service encounters: In a world with nearly universal wi-fi, Google maps and Twitter, why do I ever have to wait in a line?
How about you: What services would you like to see made more save time & effort or produce better results?
Learning by analogy
10 hours ago