My ‘just over a year old’ blackberry had some problem which took me to the Vodafone store. The store looked amazing. As good if not better than most Vodafone stores I have seen around the world. However once I entered, the service that I experienced was shoddy to say the least. The people at the store were ignorant, not updated with information and couldn’t analyze the problem with my phone. The senior representative who knew a little about the Blackberry was not in office on both my visits (both well within regular Goan working hours).

This experience at the store got me thinking. Vodafone is a company that defines excellence in so many ways. Their advertising is cutting edge. They have beautifully cultivated an image/perception of the brand through their huge mass media spending (love their new ZooZoo campaign). They always come up with some great value added services for their customers. In my mind, Vodafone (or Hutch & Orange, as they were called previously) had a lot of things bang on. However on the last mile (frontline staff at the stores) the service experience was poor. Very Very Poor.

Do we businesspeople not pay enough attention to the last mile??(My Businesses included). Are we as fanatic about the last mile as we are about our advertising, branding or finances???

What/Who is the BUSINESS LAST MILE???

  1. The Customer Care Executives rendered at Vodafone/Reliance stores.
  2. The Waiters at a Café or a Restaurant.
  3. Service engineers from my own IT business.
  4. Courier Delivery Boys.
  5. Call Center Executives.

Basically, anyone who is in touch with the customer. Anyone that fronts your organization. Cause in spite of having a great couple of layers of managerial talent, it’s often the last mile that irks people, that makes the experience unpleasant and that which makes you lose your customer. It’s the last mile that makes or breaks businesses.

Which companies have had a consistent great last mile??

Of the top of my head, The American Fast Food Chains – Mc Donalds, KFC, Pizza Hut.

In all my years of visiting these restaurants, the experience on the last mile has always been exceptional. It’s a standard experience…but a good one. That’s really commendable considering the thousands of restaurants they run all over the world.

So what are the possible solutions? I don’t know. But if I were to take a guess..I would say,

  1. Hire Better People – Pay more attention to the process of hiring on the last mile…cause its often the most neglected part of hiring.
  2. Paying People more money on the last mile – we pay our managers that extra bit but not the customer fronting people cause we don’t see their value add to our business and so attribute very little skill to that last mile.
  3. Prioritizing the last mile – Concentrate on the last mile all the time. Let it always be at the top of our mind.
  4. Constant Training – Training helps; it’s proven world wide. So invest in the training of your front line people.
  5. Constant Auditing of the last mile – put the CEO out on the field. As a customer with a problem.

I’m trying to change the last mile experience in my organization within my companies and I know for sure it’s not an easy or an overnight job. Its pain staking…but hopefully should add to my bottom line in years to come.

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