Is Your Customer King?

Probably not. There’s a lot of folderol in management circles about making sure that you put the customer first, that the customer is always right, that the customer relationship is the most critical relationship of all.

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Image: Tomasz Steifer, Gdansk

Then, of course, big business (let’s not lay all the blame at their feet; small business can suck at this, too) comes along and undermines anything the “boots on the ground” are actually doing on the ground.

From the latest New Thinking by Gerry McGovern:

In many organizations, the current customer is so disrespected that support is outsourced. You outsource the things that matter least to you. You outsource to save money. You outsource because you don’t care. You outsource because you don’t think something is a core competence.

It doesn’t get any truer than that, babies. It’s all about grabbing the most that you can and the devil take the hindmost.

Why do you hate dealing with Comcast/Time Warner/Verizon/fill-in-the-blank-with-other-hated-company-of-your-choice? Because their customer service stinks.

Two weeks ago, my local electricity provider (recently purchased by a mega-conglomerate) sent me a letter telling me to URGENTLY get in touch as someone needed to come over RIGHT AWAY to change my electric meter.

I called. I got the now-ubiquitous automated operator. I tried several different options (“Press 2 for Residential Customers”) and finally I just started yelling “Represenative!” and it finally connected me. To someone who didn’t know what in the hell was going on. Who lived states away from me. *sigh* Well, at least he didn’t live in a foreign country.

I’m still waiting on the promised technician to come out to fix something that THEY wanted fixed. I don’t care if they replace the dumb meter or not. I just called because I thought it would be helpful. I won’t make that mistake again.

“You outsource because you don’t think something is a core competence.” Gerry’s been right a lot, but he’s never been more right than right here.

Good Experience: The Key to Consumer Interaction

Excellent report here from Marketing Charts which shares the results of a global survey of the ideal customer experience. I find the results more than a little intriguing. Also, before you run out and change your customer engagement strategy, I would caution you to note the worldwide nature of the study: only 8% of respondents were from the U.S.

EIU-Elements-Ideal-Customer-Experience-Apr2015Still, that doesn’t mean it’s bad data. What it means is that the numbers might skew a bit differently if these were U.S.-only numbers.

I find this interesting:

Overall, 71% of respondents said their typical response to a bad experience is to stop doing business with the company. A slight majority (55%) typically tell friends and family about it in person or by email, while 42% said they complain to the company and 26% post a comment on social media.

Now, that should tell you something. The impact of bad experiences with your business or organization is a game changer. Or at least it should be. If just under three-quarters of the people who have a bad experience with you leave and don’t come back — and tell a friend about it — you soon won’t have any customers left.

The curious thing is that the numbers for outstanding experiences show that slightly less people will share if they are happy. In other words, you’ll know when someone is pissed!

Last year, I had two online retail experiences of note. I had never dealt with either company before. The first was for a big ticket item. The second was for a very minor purchase. The first experience was the worst experience I have ever had and I will never, ever use this company again. The second was the polar opposite: they sent me a new product, on their dime, with expedited shipping. And then called me to make sure it was okay. I am quite sure that they lost money on that transaction.

But here’s the thing, they had no idea that I would ever be able to share those feelings or encourage others to purchase from them (LampsUSA).

As for the other (Cymax), one can’t say enough bad words. Stay away.

For the survey, H/T Gerry McGovern.

Gerry McGovern: On the Web, Helping Instead of Selling

McCambley stresses that the Web is about doing things, and that the mobile Web is even more task-focused. He quotes Googles Eric Schmidt, then with Sun Microsystems, who said way back in 1998 that “Customer service is the killer app of the Web.” So true. According to McCambley, “Brands such as Google, Zappos, Amazon, eBay, and others win because they ask “How can I help you?” instead of “What can I sell you?”

via gerrymcgovern – NEW THINKING: Busy people need help, not interruptions.

Oh, Good Lord, yes. A thousand times, yes.

Every time a New Thinking comes out, I’m reinvigorated. It’s like a little bit of validation from a far-off Irishman who does not know me, but who reads my mind and tells me that I’m not crazy!!

New Thinking in Patient Care: Hotels

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Many service-oriented industries can learn a great deal from the hospitality industry.

I had a moment of clarity last night. A colleague was helping her mother with some content development work. Her mom is a consultant who specializes in Alzheimers/dementia care and working with nursing homes to develop new models for caring for patients.

Tangental to this dementia work has come, in recent years, an onslaught of new patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) from our horrible unwinnable wars. Nursing facilities have found themselves caught with a clientele of patients younger than they are used to and who have needs for long term care that they are often unfamiliar with.

A long intro for this, sent to me by my colleague:

“What is the connection between Person Centered Care and health care? Person Centered Care becomes an experience that enhances the delivery of health care services. Health care is becoming a consumer driven industry. It may be helpful to peruse the basic service standards for the hospitality industry.”

It is, I think, a terrific recommendation. When I was working to develop new paradigms for service in the arts, time and time again I went back to the well of concierge service, white glove total service, ease of use and ease of payment. It is absolutely what we hope hoteliers are trained to understand and implement.

Let’s put it another way: you may not be able to articulate what makes service good, but you damn sure know when it’s bad.

Comments encouraged.