If you want customer loyalty, your business needs quality standards.
Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald’s was once visiting Canadian McDonald’s franchise and found a single fly. Two weeks later, the franchise was shut down.
The founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies once tossed out over $500 worth of cookies and temporarily closed a store because its samples were not acceptable.
Colonel Sanders, the founder of KFC, once destroyed his proprietary cooking ware on the spot at a franchise that was not operating up to his standards.
What does quality control mean to your business?
Your first goal must be to meet your customers’ minimum expectations 100% of the time. Fall short, and you may not get a second chance. Your customers want to know that they can depend on your products and services to be everything they expect them to be; each and every time they use them. From your customers’ perspective, quality means ‘dependability.’
Building customer loyalty demands that you consistently delight your customers. Set your own minimum standards higher than your customers’, and then continuously raise the bar on quality. Not only will your customers be pleasantly surprised, they’ll be induced to return to your business. As J.C. Penney said: “It is the service we are not obliged to give that people value the most.”
Raise the bar on quality once, however, and you must never lower it back down. Once your customers experience an improvement from your business, they will begin to expect it. Anything less after that can shake your customers’ confidence in you. This shouldn’t be a problem, if you take the time to properly prepare. Make improvements to your business through rock solid systems, and they will stick like glue.
Incidentally, maintaining the improvements you make to your business must go well beyond quality inspection checks. Inspection checks are useful, but they only deal with symptoms. True quality control will mean getting to the root of problems when they arise. Tools that help track data within your business can be helpful to highlight elements that may not be performing to standard.
I like how H. James Harrington sums it up: “Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.”
Keeping strong, lifelong customer relationships takes more than a smile and a friendly handshake, it takes consistent effort. The effort your company puts into maintaining quality standards will be rewarded by your customers’ loyalty; an investment that is well worth the effort in the long run. When your customers can depend on the quality of your service or product they will trust the integrity of your business. Hands down, this is the most valuable way to make a sale. Gaining the loyalty of your customers and their network can mean multiple and ongoing sales, ultimately growing the bottom line of your company.