written by alastair barlow [blog]
Value is one of the most important concepts in business but too often we let price get in the way of seeing the value.
A great example is this weekend, when I spent 6 hours in Snow and Rock in Covent Garden. That sounds like a lot of time to spend in a store, but it was incredible customer service and to me, huge value. I was fitting new boots for our ski trip, flinderTakesThePiste. If you’ve not come across flinderTakesThePiste before we take our team and clients away skiing to develop deeper relationships and generally have a great time and drink a fair amount of wine. You can read why we do this more here and see some of our antics here.
But back to me being in the store for 6 hours…I see a huge number of parallels between the Snow and Rock customer experience and the flinder client experience (although the wait time at flinder for information is considerably less!). Below are some of the points that rang true to me.
First of all I had to remove my shoes and socks so an expert could really understand my feet profile in more detail – clearly it’s not possible to see this with shoes and socks on. My feet were also measured, both weighted and un-weighted, and a 3D fit profile was carried out too.
As well as these measurements, David asked me a little more about how often I skied, which runs I skied on, how fast I take runs and what I was looking for in a boot. We also discussed the surgery I had on my right ankle.
He then selected 2 sets of boots for me (Atomic and Salomon) based on my profile above (or functional requirements in flinder language). At this point price wasn’t mentioned once but being an accountant I had spun around to see the shelf cost of them 😉
Similar to what we carry out at flinder, we understand the business, the shape, the size, the maturity, volumes, the current state finance function and where the business is heading to i.e. what they are looking to get out of a finance partner. We also propose a scope that we think is right based on our understanding and our vast experience.
I was now handed over to another colleague (he wasn’t wearing a name badge so I forgot his name within a few seconds). We spent a bit of time trying the boots on for initial comfort in length, width and any other pressure points around the foot. He even did the boots up for me to make sure the foot was sitting in the boot in the right position. He literally held my hand through the process, much like what we do with our clients.
After trying both sets of boots on a few times, one felt really snug and uncomfortable on the ankle and the other, which was much better all round, had a slight annoyance on the top of the foot. He explained that was a harder thing to fix so we he moved back to the Salomon’s but moved up to a slightly wider boot but still maintaining all of the other features (or functionality) that I was looking for.
This boot felt much better straight away, although it wasn’t quite perfect, so I was still standing there in them (working the quads and glutes) for quite some time to be confident these were the right ones. Still no mention of price 😊
This guy also really knew his stuff – he gave me huge amount of confidence through this fitting process and could answer all my questions.
We have a separate implementation team to provide a much more focused service with excellence in this area. While they have experience working on business as usual, they are extremely experienced in implementation to give a great experience and confidence from the start.
Once we’d selected these boots, it was on to the customisation of the foot beds. This involved standing on a machine in bare feet for about 10 mins to get a perfect imprint to support the arch of my foot. After creating this imprint, I went for lunch while they were still working on shaving the custom footbeds to my boot.
Back after a nice lunch at 50 Kalo I was ready for some more standing still in ski position (more quads and glutes work!). I first tried them on with the new custom footbeds, they felt pretty good but there was still more customisation to come. This time the outer boot itself was put into the ‘oven’, essentially a big hairdryer machine to heat the plastic up – far too hot to touch by hand. My feet were back in and this time I was standing for at least 15 – 20 minutes in this position. The boots (including the inner boot) were cooling around the shape of my foot. To speed up the process a little ice packs were wrapped around them too.
After this, I popped them back off again and waited for them to cool completely. I also needed to give my feet a bit of a rest as I had been in and out of boots, some of which were uncomfortable and so my feet and ankles were feeling pressure which wouldn’t give a true feeling of what my new custom boots would feel like. A short while later they were back on me to feel what the final boot would be like. I was 99% happy with them but still had a slightly uncomfortable feeling on the inside of my right ankle – exactly where my surgery had been.
Boots off again, and this time he applied the heating process to the boot inner. He also added a bit of foam just below my ankle to ‘blow the inner’ out a little bit to give me more room and more comfort. This was probably about 2mm in total. A tiny amount in reality but to me it was a big thing. Boots back on, 20 mins standing, more quads and glutes action, off again to cool and back on again to try them. They felt great!
This whole experience took about 6 hours, although 1.5 hours I was having lunch. Still no mention of price 😊
During our onboarding, we make sure our ways of working, communication, management information and everything else is customised towards the client and their expectations. This way they can be as happy I was when I walked out of Snow and Rock. Equally, they know they can always contact their dedicated Business Advisor to tweak whatever it is that needs tweaking.
Business as usual
Well, I’ve not yet tried them on the slopes, but I’m sure you will see some pics and videos of this in a few weeks on our first flinderTakesThePiste trip of the year to Morzine! But if there is anything that needs changing, I know I have the option of going back in store before my next ski trip.
At flinder, this is where we move into the business as usual team that own the relationship and are there to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Value is in the eyes of value-holder and depends from person to person. I ski and snowboard a lot. If I was a beginner, I probably wouldn’t have valued the experience as much, and could well have become annoyed that it took so long. Equally, if I went once a year or once every couple of years, I probably wouldn’t have valued the experience as much either. However, I know exactly how rentals feel and how important it is to have your own boots that fit like a glove. I know the importance of how putting in this effort and cost upfront will give me so much more pleasure, less pain, cost less in the long run, give me time back in resort not having to fit boots each trip and overall give me a much better experience.
For me, this is huge value and the experience was fantastic. At flinder, we may cost more than other accountants, but we deliver a huge amount of value…to those that value it. Those that have the experience to look further ahead and see what time or cost they will save in the future for getting it right up front will see that value, those that don’t have that foresight won’t. We only work with those businesses that see the value.