The other day, a friend called. He is a senior executive in his company’s financial department. He clearly was frustrated and said, “Dave! I need your help!” We are being killed by the people and many internal functions within this organization. They don’t like the customers! They believe everything would be perfect if not for these customers. How do I get them to see that our customers are what keeps us going?
Although I wish it was the first time this happened, it is all too familiar. Although most people won’t be able to express this clearly, you can see the attitude in many of our customers. “Things would have been great if not for the customers bothering me all the time.” These attitudes are often inherited from companies that also claim to be customer-focused.
Customer service, customer focus, and customer-centricity go beyond the job of sales and marketing. Customers are the job of every employee in an organization. Although intellectually, people understand it. But it is their actions and attitudes when performing their jobs that make it difficult. It’s worse; customers aren’t aware of the reality as much as they would if the company was promoting it.
Consider the occasions you will encounter it.
You call a company and say you are a customer. Then you are transferred from one person to another, with no answer to your question. Nobody seems to care about you.
You use the customer service on the internet. After you receive a response from them, it doesn’t answer your questions. So you go back and ask the same question with the same incident number. They email you the same response. (By the by, this happened five times in a row yesterday at a large software company. Before I quit and called the president, it still took him 24 hours).
-You ask about a service, an invoice, or a product and get the answer “it’s our practice.”
Support or answers to questions are not given a personal touch. All answers are sent with a “Do Not Reply” label. Responses are anonymous; there is no contact information and no one to speak to.
In internal conversations, you will hear customers talking negatively about each other. You will hear phrases like “They are so stupid …” They just want to take advantage ….” of us ….” All their interruptions make it impossible for me to get my job done.
-Reply to your complaint with a response like “We take all of our support requests in sequence and will get to your issue in due time. This was my experience recently when an “emergency” support request I submitted was not answered after 56 hours.
-Complaining to an executive on social media or Twitter is the only way to get a reply.
There are many stories. You can find more examples here:
Companies want to create senior customer contact executive programs. Asking what they want to accomplish is the best way to get more sales. This is not customer-centricity.
You sit in company meetings, and they talk about customers in abstract terms. Names are not spoken of – company names and people’s names. Customer problems are not discussed, nor is the story of the customer. Even worse, conversations can become dominated by complaining about customers.
Customers are not invited to company meetings, except as speakers at sales meetings. Customers are not asked to meet with company employees, and they are not asked to present at executive meetings.
Companies conduct customer satisfaction surveys, but they never share the results with anyone except sales and customer service. Customers who took part in the survey are not allowed to see the results without action plans.
The executives (other than marketing and sales) reluctantly agree to their mandatory quota of customer meetings. They view them as an interruption or inconvenience. They don’t have any stories about customers they can share with their colleagues or with each other.
When I am around customer-centric companies, it is always apparent. Customers come in every day. Customers get to see every part of the business and can interact with other people than sales. Customers are everywhere, with their stories and pictures. Customers are everywhere. Customers are often referred to as by their names, and everyone can relate a story. Executives are interested in being involved with customers. Not to sell more, but to give customers direct access to advice, help, and feedback. Companies that implement executive contact programs to achieve this purpose sell more to their customers. These are some of the most important.
Customers-centric companies do not necessarily believe that the customer is always right. However, they think the customer should be heard, engaged, and responded to.
How do employees in your company talk about customers?
-Do your executives have a list of names for at least 10 of your top customers?
Are your executives calling to schedule meetings with customers?
How many customer stories and pictures are displayed in your conference rooms or hallways?
How many thank-yous’s can you receive and publish?
Reminder: Future Selling Institute’s office hours will be held Friday, February 11, at 1:00 EST. We will discuss Coaching Opportunities and the Pipeline. You are welcome to attend, but registration is required to ensure you get a time slot.
Partners In EXCELLENCE is Dave Brock’s company, where he serves as President and CEO. Partners In EXCELLENCE provides global leadership, management, and marketing consulting services. Partners in EXCELLENCE assist clients in achieving their highest performance levels by focusing on the client.