For the last couple of years I’ve made a point of buying most of my meat from the local butcher and fruit and veg from the greengrocer, who happens to be located next door.  Very cosy and reminds me of when I was a kid and my mum would do her shopping on a daily basis, visiting the local shops.  The butcher has clear differentiation over the local out of town supermarket and their big brand, local presence convenience stores. The meat is better quality, he knows his onions (no,  that’s the greengrocer) and the service and banter is excellent.  The greengrocer is much the same and it’s great to deal with an expert or make that special order that he’ll pick up fresh from the market the following day.  Having said that, parking is ridiculously hard, they’re both more expensive than the supermarket and I can’t buy a loaf from either of them.  But, those are minor irritations and I’m a loyal customer, partly (and this will become important shortly) because they both just happen to be cyclists.  That brings me on to bikes.

I’ve recently started the hunt for a new bike.  Since starting cycling a little over a year ago I’ve been completely swept away by all the jargon on groupsets, frame materials, lightweight wheels and finishing kit.  The fact that I’m carrying more than my fair share of timber should discount any consideration of “weight weenie” bikes, but the marketing men have got me and I know that if I get that new bike it’ll make going up those dreaded hills a little bit easier.  Everyone who knows anything about bikes, including the butcher and the greengrocer, has told me my current steed is fine and that it’s not the bike it’s the engine i.e. my heart, lungs and legs that matter.  But I don’t care, I want that new bike.  So, I have a mind boggling choice – racing, audax, touring, carbon, titanium, steel, Shimano, Campagnolo, SRAM – the list of variables and decisions goes on and on.  I love the idea of getting a custom made bike, so I start the discussion with a small but well known frame builder.  The service is absolutely stunning – first class expertise, fantastic advice and great custom made bikes.  Much like the butcher and greengrocer – experts in their field.  I quickly realised that this is as much about talking about my dream bike as it is about riding it. 

What do these three small businesses have in common?  What really strikes me and what keeps me going back for more is the pride and passion that each of them shows in the quality of their products and service.  It’s infectious.  They know that their customers are their lifeblood.  They live or die by what they sell and how they engage with their customers.  They talk about cycling or football or something else I’m interested in, because they know me. We have a relationship. They truly care – not because the management team tell them to care, but because they know that’s the only way they can succeed in the face of fierce competition, whether that be from local competitors, the supermarkets or cycle superbrands.  And, I want to talk to them, because it’s natural, a two way dialogue and they aren’t following a script or being marked on controlling the conversation so they can hit their metrics and move onto the next call.  I feel a bit special.  They take as long as it takes to make sure I’m happy.  How refreshing when you’ve just tried to deal with your utility, telco or bank!

At Budd we’re passionate too.  We’re passionate about building brilliant customer experiences.  Using processes pioneered in great companies like Amazon (and the local butcher, greengrocer and frame builder) we help companies to really listen and act on what their people and customers know, underpinned by our experience in implementing Best Service Is No Service demand reduction and our “secret sauce” that we call “decisionflow”.

I’m interested to know your own best and worst experiences, whether that be with a global giant or the local sweet shop, so let me know what they are.

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