Generally I do most of my weekly food shopping with the same multiple (supermarket brand) and at the same store, for convenience, as it is located nearby. However, recently I have changed this habit and about time too! Basically I found that the choice of certain products available was inferior to what was being provided by more specialist suppliers. A typical example was that the meat on sale was of low quality and the selection of cuts was poor i.e. cheaper cuts available while leaner, more expensive, cuts were not provided.

One particular evening I needed a good, lean simple roast for a surprise dinner and was let down at the local supermarket as poorer quality joints were only available. I found out that a local butcher, who I had not known existed, was open late (on a Saturday) and was located not a million miles away. Within 5 minutes of entering the butchers shop I had what I needed and the butcher had just secured a new long term customer. How? Quite simply he explained to me what was on offer, sized the joint exactly to my needs, advised on the different types available and was friendly, warming, etc. (as he knows he has to be) and provided better quality produce at decent prices. The local supermarket has no butcher, just vacuum packed meat that generally looks grey and unappetising most of the time. Importantly, there is no face to face conversation with the meat aisle. No relationship or warmth at all.

Yes, complacency was a contributor in the past to some of my shopping decisions but not anymore. I have wised up and demand better quality products so I have to shop elsewhere and will shop elsewhere to get what I want.

Do your customers suffer from the same complacency with regards to the services and products you offer? Think about it. If your customers react in the same way, or have a specific requirement that you cannot meet or worse still, do not even identify, then it may only be a matter of time before they look elsewhere to satisfy their needs of quality, cost, value and choice?

I must reiterate a reference from a previous blog as it holds true to this situation as well. In a Harvard Business Review it has been reported that that if an organisation can prevent 5% of their customers from leaving, their bottom line profit could increase by 25 – 95%.

Just because a customer bought from a business yesterday does not mean that they can be relied on to buy again tomorrow from the same place. Customer loyalty is needed now, more than ever, to get through these hard times but that same loyalty is on the decline and being tested every day. Surviving the recession, staying in business and growing the bottom line requires that businesses reconnect with their customers and ensue that adequate quality, cost, value and choice is provided.  Otherwise, just like a good roasting joint, you may find things getting a little lean.

Now to find a good local baker though I doubt a candlestick maker will be required anytime soon!

Mark O'Loughlin

Mark is a global authority in helping organisations achieve the very best from their investments in people, technology and digital services. He has served on the Board of Directors of itSMF Ireland and Cloud Credential Council. Mark is a Fellow of the Irish Computer Society, awarded for his achievements and contribution to the IT profession and industry. His prolific publishing includes two books published in four languages, 100’s of articles, and whitepapers. He developed the world’s first certification for the business management of cloud services accredited by Cloud Credential Council. As a member of the international standards group ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 38, Mark contributed to the development of global standards for IT, cloud and digital services.