Break these at Your Peril! Promises, Promises

Recently I visited a well-known spa in Thailand to review their offering, to see how well it lived up to its promise and reputation as a top location. I wanted to use this place as a base measurement for a new spa and detox center here in Bali. My review ranked each of the various customer touch points – those areas whereas a customer I interacted with its products, services, and processes.

Business Brand Promises:


How Well the Business meets its Brand Promise?


Brand Delivery Points:

These touch points are about Brand Delivery:

The results were grim. Delivery was nowhere near the promise that enticed me there. Problems started from my unanswered website inquiry and continued on; especially inadequate advice about what to expect. When I arrived I found that my departure flight was too early to take advantage of a final half day that I had paid for but not been properly advised about.


The car for airport transfer had some good material to read on the detox program but the same material in my room showed the car material was out of date. While reception was warm and helpful in most instances, they didn’t accept US dollars meaning a special trip to a bank to the nearest town, costing me more for transport. They not only made me cranky but also lost an opportunity to profit on the currency exchange.


The staff who mattered in the detox center didn’t know I was coming, were not aware of what treatment I had paid for.  Three different people had three different ideas about when I should have detox process education. When I finally fronted the Spa Director for this (who also wasn’t expecting me) he lambasted one of his staff in Thai on the phone while I sat there. Terrific.


Detox treatments can make you a little emotional at the beginning. By the third day, it was driving me nuts that each of the 5 times a day I went to the restaurant I had to add my name and room number on the receipt. They already had this information on computer and easily could have adjusted their program to include this on the printed invoice. There was nothing to tell me I could have room service for these detox treats – another piece of information rationed out to me on the third day.


Brand Promise and Brand Delivery

In all there were 16 touch points and 12 of them I rated poorly. The gulf between brand promise and brand delivery generated disappointment and anger that I had spent valuable money yet my needs were not met. To compound the lousy brand delivery, the spa had a guest questionnaire that was actually designed to measure most of these touch points.


Brand delivery is at least as much about the customer’s emotional experience as it is of the functional capability. This place was pushing all the wrong buttons. I started confused and uncertain, became annoyed and ended disappointed. It’s no wonder then that the occupancy rate was running at less than 15 percent.


What YOUR Customer Needs?

Brand delivery is not rocket science. You have identified the customer need that you want to deliver – for a profit of course. You have resources – people, money, equipment, and software – and activities/processes to meet that need. The quality of the resources and activities you invest in deciding whether you have good or bad capabilities for delivering your product or service.


When you provide consistently good or better capabilities then you attract a reputation for supply reliability. Supply reliability delivers a quality product or service and attracts positive word of mouth. Positive words on Twitter, Facebook, Trip Adviser or over a beer or coffee grow market share. Market share grows net profit. It’s all so inevitable, either up or down.


Paul Deeming* stated that at least 85% of business problems are caused by management; from the perspective of over 20 years of business consultancy, I totally agree. Inadequate processes, inconsistent business rules, poor team leadership, failure to measure, poor cash management – these are all management problems, not those of staff or customers. Staff problems often result from lack of training, lack of supervision, lack of knowledge of what the business expects from them, and lack of proper tools to do their job.


Business Success:


Small business success is all about identifying a market niche with sufficient needy customers and then meeting that need. By setting yourself up in that niche you have indirectly created a brand promise that you will meet those needs.


Direct reinforcement of your promise with promotion and advertising and sales messages is important but not enough, particularly in these days of social networks and tools like Trip Adviser. Now, unmet promises are quickly discovered and reported. The direct promise message works to bring in new customers who haven’t heard of you, but the investment is a waste of money if you are not able to deliver.


Do it right:


In a service business in Bali, I worked with the General Manager to totally transform the customer experience. First, we walked through the whole operation with a customer perspective. We listed 59 action items that needed improvement or could be added. There were a few major items but mostly we sweated the small stuff. We defined responsibilities and set completion goals for each task.

We recognized resources needed (money, people, equipment, and systems) and made sure they were available. Every week we got together and reviewed progress, kicked butt and took names when necessary. After four months we had nearly all of those action points licked. The final cost was actually very minimal.


What was the end result?


Were customers more emotionally satisfied? It could be measured at least partly in the Trip Advisor rankings, a significant improvement from 12th to 4th in its category in just over 12 months. Sales increased by 50% in the same period. Coincidence?


What YOUR business in Bali?


Are you delivering pleasant surprises or disappointments? Are you brilliantly inspired but seeking know-how? The first thing you need to have is a business framework, and that will be the subject of our next article.


*Paul Deeming was an integral part of the incredible US manufacturing mobilization during World War 2 and then went on to help transform Japanese post-war industry to its modern quality and supply reliability.


Let me know if there is any aspect of developing a successful business you would like me to write about.


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