You will find much more than a good night’s sleep at the Four Seasons Hotel. The Four Seasons has become one of the most respected hotel chains on the planet through its pledge to “Outstanding Customer Experience.” Can your ERP service make the same pledge? In this series of blog posts, we’ll explore the meaning of outstanding customer experience and how you can deliver it.
Implementing or even maintaining a scalable ERP that provides operational efficiencies is an incredibly complex and challenging undertaking. Like your peers, you’ll soon discover that great ERP services are not easy to find. The challenge is inherently tied to the complexity of ERP systems and to the fact that we work with people, who are by nature not always perfect. While I strongly believe that most ERP providers strive to deliver the best possible experience, sadly, incompatibilities among personalities, work styles, and interpretations can conspire to derail the service delivery process.
As an ERP services provider, how do you ensure that your approach produces a great customer experience? What are companies in other business segments doing that we can learn from? Four Seasons has achieved great success in the hospitality industry by creating great experiences, thus earning the trust and loyalty of millions of guests. This singular focus, this raison d’être, makes the Four Seasons what it is today.
The company has a crystal clear identity and purpose. And makes sure everyone knows it. I found the following on the Four Seasons website:
“We have chosen to specialize within the hospitality industry by offering only experiences of exceptional quality. Our objective is to be recognized as the company that manages the finest hotels, resorts and residence clubs wherever we locate. We create properties of enduring value using superior design and finishes, and support them with a deeply instilled ethic of personal service. Doing so allows Four Seasons to satisfy the needs and tastes of our discriminating customers, and to maintain our position as the world’s premier luxury hospitality company.”
Perfect! But how do they make this work? How are they able to achieve their goal of “offering exceptional quality”? I did a little research and found three focus areas they actively target to ensure that the company is well positioned to give every customer a positive experience:
- Cater to every customer’s specific needs
- Enable partnerships between their staff and their customers
- Focus on Employees
How can you translate these ideas to the ERP Services industry? It’s simple. When thinking about catering to every customer’s specific needs, think about what makes each customer unique. To serve a customer well, you must understand them. What are their company values? What are their discriminators? What are they trying to achieve as a company? What are their business goals? How do they make money today and how do they plan to make money in the future?
These are just a few questions that every functional consultant must understand in order to be able to provide better, more creative solutions to every problem that arises relating to servicing an ERP footprint.
Simple, yes. But not necessarily easy. Knowing your customer takes time, care, and well-honed listening skills. I’ve come across many consultants who don’t take the time to ask about the mission or business goals of their customers. Such fundamental knowledge is essential to meeting customer needs; and yet it is just the first step toward attaining the Four Seasons ethos.
In the next two weeks we’ll delve into steps two and three. We’ll explore how partnerships and employee focus can improve your ability to create the outstanding experience your customers deserve.
About the Author
Bernardo Enciso is Managing Director at SquareWorks Consulting. He is a passionate ERP expert with more than 10 years of experience. He has managed and/or implemented Business Applications such as NetSuite, Epicor, Concur, Workday, Deltek Vision and many others. He is based out of Boston, MA.