Burger King created one of its more memorable commercial tag lines: have it your way. It’s a fantastic line–at once the most beguiling promise as well as the greatest challenge of the service world.
What it really says is that sometimes N = 1. In some instances, you tailor a service delivery process–from operating focus to the standards that define success–to meet the unique needs and expectations of just one customer. And the only way to do that is to know, in precise detail, exactly how each customer defines superior service. According to popular author Harvey MacKay’s formula, there are sixty-six different things worth knowing about your customers on an individual basis, from whether they’d rather have you call them early in the morning or late in the afternoon to their birthdays, hobbies, and interests.
Today, segmentation is the name of the game in virtually every industry sector. Customers are no longer shapeless, featureless mass markets. They’re specific, small groups with their own unique view of what constitutes great service. What they want and how they want it and how they do or don’t get it add up to an index of service delight that ultimately determines whether they’ll ever come back and do business with you again. And if they don’t want to come back, you’re going to have serious problems being a business, whatever business you’re in.
Read the article by David Gardner in Fast Company about customization versus mass customization.