This is not a political blog. But the familiar sign at the start of most airport moving sidewalks carries a subtle but powerful message about great customer service—walk on the left; stand on the right. The political left is associated with change–”the party of movement;” the political right is associated with conservatism–”the party of order.” Walking on the left implies assertive change and creativity; standing on the right implies protecting calm and stability.
Customers value consistency in the areas of their experience where predictability is meritorious. We want airlines to be safe, hospitals to be clean, and circuses to be fun. As customers, we are loyal to those organizations that firmly protect their core offering and core values. We applaud when a fast food restaurant takes a strong stand for healthy food; a bank stands firm on retaining fair charges when competitors charge what they believe they can get away with. We want our service providers to stand on the right.
Customers also gravitate to service providers that are progressive, constantly seek ways to invent, improve, and enhance. As customers, we know successful organizations follow the advice of folksinger Bob Dylan: “Those not busy being born are busy dying.” “Innovate or die” is the popular organizational mantra. It is living the title of author Bob Kriegel’s book: “If it ain’t broke, break it!” Great service requires continually adjusting and adapting as customers change. Bottom line, we want our service providers to walk on the left.
So, what should organizations do, walk on the left or stand on the right? When you are lugging a suitcase along an airport moving sidewalk, you must choose one side or the other. However, when you are delivering great service, it is imperative you must do both. Be a service innovator while protecting your core offering. Give your customers new; give your customers order.