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Most companies think they are. After all, don't companies hire nice people, and provide them some training? Don't these same companies intend to do their best by supplying good products, installing toll-free numbers, and generally fixing problems that customers complain about?
So what's the problem?
I contend that companies generally do not pro-actively think about the customer. Ask yourself how easy is it for your customers to do business with you? Better yet, ask your customer. Organizations don't begin to think about customer service until a customer complains. And the truth is most customers don't complain they vote with their feet by going elsewhere. What I call their silent vote.
You might be surprised to find that:
64% of customers feel companies with which they frequently interface by telephone are not respectful of their time
70% of customers will change suppliers due to poor service - today's competitive environment makes this choice easier.
It takes between 2-4 times the cost to find a new customer as to retain a customer
Reducing these customer defections by 5% could increase profits, as much as 50%
It seems clear where I would spend my time if I were the senior management of any organization. I would aggressively develop a passionate attitude throughout my organization to ensure every experience that every customer has is more than they expect - in other words seek Customer Delight in everything we do.
Believe it or not, most organization don't know how to start, let alone, deploy an effective customer oriented attitude and support system. It's more than one or two individuals trying their best. Or the latest piece of technology. It's starts with the CEO. His or her deeds, and action towards the customer represent the standard. The CEO must believe that always doing the best for each customer will contribute significantly towards increasing the financial health of the company. Then the trickle-down magic begins. Everyone else within the organization now clearly understands that customer's not only matter, but are the reason for being in business.
Let me provide a simple, but powerful example.
When I was a young salesman visiting Bob Collins, CEO of GE Fanuc, he was made aware of some poorly manufactured product. It was an honest mistake by the manufacturing group. Not all products were impacted, but Bob immediately halted all shipments and instructed his people to pull everything back out of inventory and retest it before shipment. This all seemed to be the prudent thing to do. However, his people told him that they couldn't retest everything and still make shipments for the month. Further, they would surely miss their quarterly, and perhaps yearly shipment goals.
Bob clearly understood his decision would negatively impact his financial results. In fact, revenue goals, employee bonus', and profit would be effected. To me it seemed like a tough decision, but Bob made his decision without hesitation. He would retest everything. In a blink of an eye, people moved to implement his customer-oriented choice.
When I quizzed Bob on how fast he made this decision, he said, "My customers best interests always comes first". "If I serve their interests, they will reward me time and again with their business", he added. It may seem trite, but Bob meant it and more importantly, his organization knew he meant it. I believe this was part of Bob's CEO makeup and helped propel GE Fanuc to consistent double-digit growth with above industry profit returns.
So what's the message?
Understanding your customer and driving that customer orientation into every aspect of your organization pays dividends time and again. Successful organizations know that it's everyone's job to work for the customer. It doesn't matter if they are a first year accountant or a long-time maintenance person; each has a part in driving your organization to provide exceptional customer service.
Now the hard part. Moving your company to a level that routinely provides Customer Delight is a never-ending and on-going process, not an event. How often have your heard someone in your organization suggest that they could get more work done if they didn't get interrupted with telephone calls from customers. Or someone in order entry exclaims, " what a jerk that guys is, doesn't he understand we're doing our best". Get radical. In both cases I would fire the person or the individual responsible for training and supervising that area.
My final advice is to begin today. As Bob Collins would say. Your customers will reward you time and again with their business.
Frank Williams is a marketer. With many post graduate courses in management, leadership, marketing and technology to his credit, Williams is a widely respected speaker, author and technologist. He has significant knowledge in marketing strategies and is the founder and CEO of Global Marketing, Inc. - a leader in business, marketing and sales consulting Other valuable articles can be found at: http://members.cox.net/glmarketing/glmarketing/index.htm