Have you ever noticed that movements happen in waves across both the blogoshphere as well as the mainstream media (often times in sync)? I've been coming across a lot of posts recently that involve putting customers first, and making them happy. Now, this is nothing new, and it's one of those things that is easier said than done. And maybe that's why it's said so often (because we aren't doing it).
It's like telling someone with the attention span of a gnat the same things over and over again in the hopes that one day, they will actually dot it.
Well here is a little gem for the attention-challenged in all of us. It lays out a simple plan for putting customers first.
Via Fast Company's blog:
10 Ways to Love (and respect) Your Customers
"1.Eliminate the customer obstacle course. If you asked customers they’d say that the obstacle course for figuring out who to talk to and how and when to get service is over-complicated, conflicting and just plain out of whack
2.Stop customer hot potato. He who speaks to the customer first should “own” the customer. There’s nothing worse that sends a signal of disrespect faster than an impatient person on the other end of the line trying to pass a customer off to “someone who can better help you with your problem.” Yeah, right.
3.Give customers a choice. Do not bind your customer into the fake choice of letting them “opt out” of something. Let them know up front that they can decide to get emails, offers or whatever from you and give them the choice.
4.De-silo your website. Our websites are often the cobbled together parts created separately by each company division. The terminology is different from area to area, as are the menu structures and logic for getting around the site. What’s accessible online is frequently inconsistent, as is the contact information provided.
5.Consolidate phone numbers. Even in this advanced age of telephony companies still have a labyrinth of numbers customers need to navigate to talk to someone. All of these grew out of the separate operations deciding on their own that they needed a number to “serve” their customers. Get people together to skinny-down this list and then let customers know about it. There’s no big red button to push to make this happen. It requires the gnarly hard work of collaborating and collective decision making – but get it done already! Customers are fed up.
6.FIX (really) the top ten issues bugging customers. We have created a kind of hysterical customer feedback muscle in the marketplace by over-surveying our customers and asking (ever so thoughtfully) “how can we improve?” Customers have told us what to do and we haven’t moved on the information.
7.Help the front line to LISTEN. We’ve robotized our frontline to the customer all over the world. Let them be human, give them the skills for listening and understanding and help the frontline deliver to the customer based on their needs.
8.Deliver what you promise. There is a growing case of corporate memory loss that annoys and aggravates customers every day The customer has to strong-arm his/her way through the corporate maize just to get basic things accomplished. They’re exhausted from the wrestling match, they’re annoyed and they’re telling everyone they know. And, oh, by the way, when they get the chance they’re walking.
9.When you make a mistake – right the wrong. If you’ve got egg on your face, for whatever the reason, admit it. Then right the wrong. There’s nothing more grossly frustrating to customers than a company who does something wrong then is either clueless about what they did or won’t admit that they faltered.
10.Work to believe. Very little shreds of respect remain,
if any, after we’ve put customers through the third degree that many
experience when they encounter a glitch in our products and services
and actually need to return a product, put in a claim or use the
warranty service. As tempting as it is to debate customers to uphold a
policy to the letter of the law, suspend the cynicism and work to
believe your customers."
Common sense stuff? Of course it is. So why do so few companies actually practice these things? Yeah, we're all guilty. Maybe it's time to act.