Got business problems or challenges at work? With his Two Cents column, Loaay Ahmed shares his expertise in strategic management consulting to help managers, employees and entrepreneurs thrive.
Within our nail spa we offer a café menu, which has allocated fees, just as any restaurant would. We offer filtered water as a complimentary alternative. We have strict protocol to ensure that all clients receive excellent customer service, so I was disappointed to know that some customers are complaining about being charged for the drinks. The menu offers high quality drinks and it costs us money. We can’t give it away for free. Why are customers offended?
LA: Your analogy for your menu being like one in a restaurant’s or a café shows how cloudy your perspective is. Customers are not coming to your nail spa for food and drinks. Drinks and any nibbles should be looked at as a tool to enhance the customer experience and not as a by-product line to make small extra income from. It is expected from spas and other beauty and relaxation facilities to offer drinks like green tea, water, apples, juices, biscuits, etc to guests for free. To control cost, offer items that are linked to how much money you’re making. So, someone booked for a quick manicure might be offered less costly drinks than someone who booked an executive or a bridal package.
Instead of thinking of your menu as one in a restaurant, think of it like one on an airplane. The higher the travel class, the more you’re offered, but regardless of what class you’re in, the menu is always complimentary because it has been factored in the price already. If you were a no-frills business like EasyJet or Fly Dubai, then I agree that the menu items can be charged, but if you’re trying to project a sense of luxury, drinks should never be charged. Also, the industry you belong to worldwide doesn’t ask customers to pay for drinks, which is one of the reasons why it’s backfiring with your guests. Be careful of such a policy because it makes your business look greedy and it’s out of place with the image you’re aiming for…and that’s just my two cents.
The goal in designing our iPhone app was to make it as quick and simple as possible to use. We realize that in some cases this will require users to accept some limitations, but for now, adding new features is not something in our plan. However, some customers have been requesting more features that from our point of view would complicate the app. Do we surrender to the requests or stick to our vision?
LA: The golden rule in good design is “form follows function”. Making things simple is always great but simplicity has to be for functions and features that work for the user. In other words, have the most essential functions and then design them in the most simplistic way, but sacrificing some important functions for the sake of simplicity is not the best approach. What if some of the frequently requested features were slowing down the app from being a best seller or frustrating the existing users’ experience?
As for sticking to the vision of keeping it simple, you don’t necessarily need to separate between customers’ needs and your vision. I’m confident that if the developing team designed the initial user interface to be attractive and simple with the initial features, then they can find a way to add the new features without complicating the app. Brands have to stay customer centric. After all, it’s customers who buy the app not the developers. Insisting on ignoring needed features is not the best way to go. You can always say no to customers, but that means there’s a big chance you will lose whoever doesn’t like the existing limitations. If the remaining customers are enough to keep you profitable and satisfied, then status quo is the name of the game for now…and that’s just my two cents.
Being a property manager/concierge is an exhausting job. All I do is receive requests and complaints. It feels that residents’ problems and issues never stop. It’s amazing how many things can go wrong in one building! I smile all the time and never make any resident feel ignored even when they’re upset. Is there a better way to manage such a job?
LA: Can you imagine if in 2011 the organizers of the London 2012 Olympics declared that the pressure and effort is too much for them to handle and gave up? In any business that’s worth managing, a challenge is part of the journey. How you react to obstacles can make a difference to the business and, more importantly, to you. In most cases, a problem is nothing but an opportunity to make a difference, improve a situation, or put a smile on the customer’s face and yours. So, how can you reach this mindset? A Japanese proverb says, “Fall down seven times, get up eight times.” Persistence to solving problems is a good start.
Your brain can easily play tricks on you. When you receive a problem your brain pulls up emotions, memories, and hormones. At a certain point, it freezes in the problem zone. What you need to do is to train the brain to stay in the solution zone instead. By focusing on solving the issue rather than being concerned with the obstacle, your mind is filled with positive energy and determination to grasp the solution you visualize. Understand problems very well and then hunt for happy endings…and that’s just my two cents.
For Loaay Ahmed’s advice on business or work matters, send a short email to [email protected]. Please note that only the questions chosen for publishing will be answered.
Loaay Ahmed is a management consultant and strategic expert. To learn more about Loaay and his consulting service, strategic business therapy, visit www.knightscapital.com.