Missed Opportunities

I have had numerous conversations recently regarding customer service; both professionally and personally. Companies tend to think of customer service as a call center operation and a necessary evil in doing business. It should be far more than that. B2C companies get all the attention when it comes to this but it’s also a problem with many B2B companies as well. In both cases, it’s an opportunity if your industry is weak or even average in this area.
Nordstrom usually comes to mind when you think of companies that stand out. Fast Company’s latest edition calls out Sir Richard Branson at the top of their list of companies that put the customer first. John Strande has a great suggestion for Levi based on his recent experience with them and David Armano discusses some of the changes the Chicago DMV has implemented that made a profoundly positive impact on an experience he was dreading based on historical encounters.
Strande and Armano’s posts highlight what a profound impact you can have on an overlooked touchpoint with your customer. Take a step back, put yourself in the customer’s shoes, and think about what would turn this into an opportunity to develop a loyal customer, or even learn something that you can leverage for a better future experience. It’s really not that complicated. Just make it an important area of focus, enlist the help of your frontline employees and your customers, and investigate what leaders in other industries have done to develop great customer service. There are numerous ways that technology can help in ways that didn’t exist even five years ago. Once you go down this path, stick with it and continue to look for improvements. Don’t just pay it lip service for 18 months and then forget about it. The dividends this pays over time are huge. A customer that contacted you out of frustration could become one of your biggest evangalists and teach you something about your business.
Quick, someone tell the cable and phone companies.

2 thoughts on “Missed Opportunities

  1. Mike, great post and thank you for the trackback! Yeah: B2C and B2B, same thing… it is still a human being at the other end of the relationship with all the innate needs we all share.
    As for the cable/phone companies, I’ve probably written at least 2 or 3 posts on my experiences with my cable company (comcast). These companies just don’t seem to understand that they are our connection to the rest of the world.
    Great post!
    Jon

  2. Egad, Mike, we’ve clearly had a similar experience with Charter (and let me take this opportunity to say that U-haul sucks too). I wonder if you also share my perception of the modern customer service experience:
    I reckon that companies haven’t overlooked the potential of customer service to bolster brand loyalty and their presence in the consumer consciousness. After all, they must’ve noticed that the moments when customer service matters most involve interaction at its most intimate with a customer at his / her most vulnerable. That companies have appropriated the instant-before-sale and time-of-need for self-service and upselling seems to indicate they would rather abuse that intimacy for an extra $19/mo. credit protection plan subscription than forge a long term (and profitable!) relationship.

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