Let’s Make it Easy

I have been doing some research for a project, surrounding identifying callers personality type and training to interact with them on their level. This was inspired by a podcast from The Harvard IdeaCast with Matthew Dixon, the Managing Director of The Corporate Executive Board’s Sales and Service Practice. His article published in the Harvard Business Reviews July/August edition is entitled, Why Delighting Your Customers is Overrated.

What a provocative statement. For most of my career I have learned and observed that a big part of the differentiations between my company and the next, is the experience that my customer has working with my company versus the other company. I loved the drama of WOWing the customer. Yet as I followed up the podcast with research on the article

Consumers really don’t expect a lot from a customer service encounter, They really just want the issue handled quickly, competently and with a minimum of fuss. They want us to make it easy on them. That means, a short time waiting (on hold, for a page to lead or in line). That means that when they get to a representative they want the issue or transaction resolved. They do not want to be transferred, put on hold while we look up the answer, or told (This is a big sin) “that’s our policy.

If you think it doesn’t matter, I met Sam today, at a breakfastmeeting. He points out that at Safeway in Oregon the average wait timein checkout is 47 seconds. In Naperville it is at 4:27 minutes. (Ibelieve this is by his own watch and he was not happy).

I once worked with a firm that had a large IT department that managed the on-boarding of all new business. But in their quest for efficiency they did away with industry specialists. Now, when a  manager was looking at the data in a file and saw (DOS) they thought Microsoft before Windows. In this case DOS means date of service. This efficiency added two weeks to the implementation.
What does this mean for us as leaders? I think it means we get back to basics. Why do customers want to do business with us? What problems do we solve? How can we make it easy for them (They are busy enough trying to stay alive in their world).

Let me suggest a few ideas:

1.   Let’s understand how customers are interacting with us. Where, when and why (in the shop, on-line or on the phone. Is it technical or service questions; perhaps orders)
2.   Let’s provide our reps with training on the 20% of the causes that make up 80% of the volume of these interactions. What are the common causes, what are the solutions, what will it take to make the customer happy
3.   Examine our processes. While we often put procedures in place to help our team conserve and manage resources, what does that do to our customer? Are we putting the burden on them?
4.   Finally, listen. When we listen to our customer whether through call monitoring, surveys, web feedback, etc, we gain insight and clues as to how to grow our business. When we hear as I have, “We are smarter than our customers.” That is the beginning of the end of the company.

Let’s  make is easy on our customers.

One Comment:

  1. I don’t think business really understands the importance of customer service. For as much time and money as is spent on gaining customers, it is 10 times easier to sell more to your existing customers than it is to get new ones. To go back to the original HBR article, I think it really depends on what exactly would “delight” me as a customer. In most cases I would be delighted if I got through quickly, spoke to a human being who was a good, clear communicator, and they resolved my issue promptly. That WOULD delight me. But that’s not what I usually get.

    What I usually get is a router where I listen to their 15 options and then choose 1. From their I get a second router with 5 more options. After working my way through their decision tree I end up being put on call while being told that my call is “very important to them”.

    By this point, I don’t believe them. And I’ve yet to actually tell anyone my problem.

    Years ago someone decided that it would be more efficient to have one customer service number for everything, less for the customers to remember. But that is a very micro view of the problem, because one number is what leads to the 15 options up front.

    Where do most people get the number to call for service? Either from the manual/directions for some products, or from the website for others. Right there it is easier to say, “here are our 4 customer service numbers that you can call, based on your problem.”

    That way I can get through to a human being quicker.

    In any event, your title has it right. Make it easy…. then I will be delighted.

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