Thursday, September 2, 2010

Virgin is not sleeping. What about you?

The worldwide known Virgin brand stands for Value for money, Quality and Fun. It offers a lot for less and it works out fine. Almost every time when Virgin enters a market it succeeds in gaining a profitable market share and most of the time, Virgin changed the rules of the game. It happened with Virgin Records, Virgin Megastores, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Express, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Trains, Virgin Money.... and so on. What is the secret? What does Branson do all the time? Is everybody else sleeping?

No, nobody is sleeping, except for things are done a bit differently at Virgin. The foundation of the success is analysis and great customer experience. First Virgin analyzes everything thoroughly. Market share, competition, economics, behavior patterns and so on. The most important analysis it conducts, in order to deliver this great experience, is the one with all the answers: the customer. The members of the Virgin research team ask themselves the question: "Why would a customer buy from us?" and "Where can Virgin add value?" and "What is value, in the eyes of the customer?" and "How does this customer want to be treated?"

These answers are to be implemented in the products and services to be launched. The results are outstanding, the offer creates a great customer experience and huge rewards. How much? The Virgin Group of companies, which include five airline companies and companies in holiday resorts, retail business, banking, public transport, mobile communication and health, contains more than 300 companies worldwide and a combined annual turnover of about € 14 billion annually and employs 50.000 people.

Ok, Virgin does not close its eyes of what the customer wants and puts that, from a strategically point of view, in the center. Now what is the link with customer process management? Well, besides knowing what the customer wants, excellent customer service is one of the pillars of their core values. Virgin communicates with its audience. So, when customers are not satisfied, a solution will be offered quickly. A few examples:

In the seventies Virgin learned that people who wanted to buy a record, first needed to listen to it and  preferred to do that in a nice and comfortable environment. So great audio equipment, couches and even mattresses were placed in the store and the basic idea of Virgin Megastores was born. In the eighties, Richard Branson had some bad flying experiences himself. He paid a lot of money for a ticket and got lousy service. He had also discussed it with fellow passengers, as he always does. So he thought he could do it better and started the multi award winning Virgin Atlantic. Virgin learned, by opening a complaint service, after buying a train company in the nineties, what the current train services lacked and how it should be. A lot of complaints and suggestions came in. Nowadays Virgin Trains offers great quality and a great experience.

One of the most recent examples is Virgin Mobile. Virgin became aware of the fact that all the big and smaller Telco's focused their operations on the highly profitable business markets and the high end consumer markets. They offered mobile phone services on (expensive) monthly subscription basis. But they neglected the market for youngsters, who were unable to pay this expensive monthly subscription fee. So Virgin Mobile entered the UK market with a pre-paid business model. Which turned out to be a great success. When introduced in the USA, it was the fastest growing company in history there, outbeating Google, Microsoft and Amazon.

The list goes on. Basically Virgin understands that customers don't want to put a lot of effort in buying stuff. They expect value for money and when they have an issue, they want to have it solved quickly and properly. Actually this is something everybody knows, so nobody is sleeping. But changing a business model, can actually cause a lot of sleepless nights. Change the current model into a customer centric one takes some time, but it is worth the effort. But is is not very difficult to start with it. Just pick up the phone, listen to your customers and act accordingly.

No comments:

Post a Comment