Where Do We Get Started?
The Quick Hits Are Under Your Nose!
By Lior Arussy
So you want to delight your customers.
Your company realized that the price pressure is not going to
ease anytime soon (most likely will intensify to the point of
impossible to bear). The
customer turnover trend is pointing upwards while the profitability
trend is pointing downward (it was really suppose to be the other way
around. Something went
wrong in the strategic process). In
short, the facts are hitting you hard and you need to do something
about it − the sooner the better.
Yes you can start in the traditional
way by establishing a cross functional team (3 months to form and
decide who will participate) that will investigate what has gone wrong
(6 months to deliberate and decide what factors should be investigated
and what method of investigation should be used).
This investigation process will be followed by an in-depth
discussion on how to improve things (a 6-9 month engagement in endless
cross functional meetings that leads nowhere, while everyone nods and
agrees with you). After
18-24 months you will still face your boss with bits and pieces and
not a single solution to the problem.
By then the problems you faced will probably haves intensified
and the problem only grew larger.
The alternative is much simpler and
easier than you might think. Start
delighting your customers right now.
Provide employees with permission to do what is right for their
customers. Educate them so
they understand customer needs and the financials behind your margins
and customer profitability. Then
just let them do it. Many
of your employees already know what needs to be done.
It is just that their hands are tied.
No cross functional, big project engagement will resolve this
basic issue. Sales people
sent to bring in as much business as possible despite the quality of
their relationships with the customers will just focus on that.
Customer service people measured on average handling time will
focus on phone time, not the quality of the service.
Marketing people measured on quantity of leads, will not bother
to qualify those leads. If
finance is told to collect unpaid invoices irrespective of the
customer’s issues, they will damage the overall customer
relationships and loyalty.
Our employees do what they are being
measured and told to do. Organizations
and executives set the tone and the rest follows.
Sure, employees would like to delight customers by sending them
a birthday card, but they do not have the budget to do it.
Of course they would love to chat more with the customer and
try to understand their problems and business issues, but this is not
in line with corporate productivity objectives.
Sure every so often employees might have impractical or
expensive ideas. But this
is usually as a result of not knowing the financials of your company.
Empower them with that knowledge and they will react like
business people − with responsibility and accountability.
So where do you start delighting your
customers? Right here
right now. Do not delay.
Get started. Here
are the top ten ideas:
customers birthday cards.
a customer a personal apology letter with a small compensation
when something went wrong.
responsibility when something goes wrong, even if it is not your
the customer a bit extra, more than what they actually ordered.
all invoices before you send them to customers.
customers before sending invoices to ensure they are ready for
what is coming.
your customers how their business is doing and what else you can
do to help them.
your customer to the next level of service, as a measure of
your customer know you noticed and appreciate their increase in
business with you.
your customer about their hobbies – engage them in conversation
on the subject.
These are just some ideas to get
started. I am sure that if
you facilitate the right discussion with your employees, they will
come up with additional ideas. They
will also be more than willing to do try these ideas as they will
realize the impact they will have.
In all our studies, we identify caring as a major factor in
making a difference. It is
the difference between the customer as a one-time transaction and the
customer as a relationship. Companies
which truly believe in a customer as a relationship, invest in caring
and generous service. They
invest in the long term aspect of their business.
Do you need a cross functional team to
design a strategy? Sure you do. Quick
hits do not replace a strategy. But
the quick hits you can start on will also assist in the formation of
the strategy. The moment
the organization notices the changes associated with the quick hits,
they will realize that the company is ready and willing to make the
leap towards customer centricity.
This realization will lower resistance and expedite the cross
functional strategic team.
Corporate history is littered with
major projects assigned to large teams that produced very little, if
at all. Focusing on the
customer is not a strategic question of “if” but rather of
“how”. We can start
answering the question “how” right away and do not need the
designated committee to lead the discussion to find answers.
Our people have the answers right now.
They have simply lost hope or the power to make it happen.
The question “how do we get started” is really a question
of how can we can reignite the fire in our organization.
If you finally realized the severity of the issues associated
with customer loyalty and profitability, it means the issues are
burning. You cannot afford
to wait for another committee to do the job for you.
You must get started, here and now and make it happen.
One employee at a time. One
customer at a time. One
idea at a time.
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