Monthly Archives: January 2015

Do You Feel Alone in Advocating for Your Customer?

Carol Buehrens - Reserved forCustomers

Do you ever feel like you’re the only one at your company who empathizes for,  or even thinks about your customer? If your company hasn’t developed a customer-centric employee culture, maybe you are. Below is a case in point…

I met with a project team to discuss a new retail system for their company website. Their current system was simple, easy to use, and they had received good feedback from the customers who used it. However, it was not fully integrated with their processes and they planned to replace it with a new system that would improve their internal workflow.

My job was to provide the project team with the results of customer testing of this new system. Sadly, I had to deliver some tough news. During the tests, the new system failed on several points. These points ranged from inconsistent and confusing labeling, redundant steps, an unreliable search routine, to an unusually high occurrence of errors that could halt the checkout process. From customer’s viewpoint, this was a tough system to use!

I thought my report would come as a complete surprise. However, the shock was mine when the business stakeholders (the team who benefited from the automation of the new system), said they already knew about these issues! They had decided to continue with the rollout in spite of the poor experience the system provided. They insisted that it was a “wonderful system”. They felt, in fact, that the concerns I identified were “out-of-scope” for the roll-out.

The customer is out-of scope?

From their viewpoint, the new system was “good enough” to roll out and customers would “be happy” using it simply because the internal stakeholders would have a better process. We were at an impasse – and I stood alone in representing the customer. I had entered this meeting wearing my soft, fuzzy customer hat, advocating for beloved customers. I soon found that I had to exchange this hat for a helmet, because I was hitting my head against a brick wall!

A few items for thought –

  • Customers don’t know about your internal processes.
  • Customers don’t care about your internal processes.
  • Customer shouldn’t have to know or care about your internal processes.
  • Customers do care that it’s easy to do business with you.

If you think this situation is rare, think again. When an organization’s culture is NOT putting their customers first, NOT focusing on their customers, NOT trying to make their customers successful, then this same scenario happens over and over again. This may be happening in project meetings throughout your own company.

When the culture of an organization isn’t centered on their customers, decisions are not made on their behalf. Poor decisions in customer experience cut into your bottom line, in more ways than one. It all starts with the heart of your company – your people.

From the book, Happy R.A.V.I.N.G. Customers! Six Powerful Steps to Grow Your Business with Exceptional Customer Experience, by Carol Buehrens.

Images created by Carol Buehrens

Customer Experience – Not Just Web Design

The Omni Customer experiences all channels and interactions provided by your company

With so much hoopla made over the digital customer these days, we might forget that Customer Experience is not so one-sided. The term is defined as “the cumulative impact of the total interactions customers have with your company, people, services and products.” This means we have Omni-customers.

‘Total interactions’ means ‘everything customers come in contact with’

It’s hard to believe, but customer experience really does cover all interactions. Not just online interfaces – the whole enchilada, stock and barrel, everything. From every social media offering, face-to-face, phone conversations, emails, snail mail, white papers, contracts, collateral, marketing campaigns, phone tree call-flows and recorded messages, how employees answer phones, the out of the box experience, product usage, product maintenance, product return, online and offline services, the line goes on. This is merely a fraction of the total interactions.

And, of course, your company websites, blogs, job listings, online product guides, shopping cart, etc. etc. etc.

Some things you control, others may be out of your control. But to your beloved customers, these interactions – all of them – represent your brand. They don’t distinguish between an online or offline brand, and neither should you.

Experience these interactions yourself.

Put the hat of your Omni-customer on and walk in their shoes. Establish a little journey to go on. Maybe you start at the website and try to find something. Test the phone number given. Use your phone tree to go through the options. Are they helpful? Do they lead you to the correct destination? Test a few extensions using an outside line. Do employees answer with cheerful voices, providing their name and department? Are they ready to help? Collect all of the printed and digital artifacts, such as mailers, emails, and other pieces of customer communications. Print them out and tape them up side by side to visually compare.

Continue doing this for everything so that you get the full breathe of the journey. Does it provide the brand values your company stands for?

Here’s the takeaway-

Don’t take it for granted that all interactions align to your brand and provide the great experience you hope and dream for. Be honest and identify all opportunities to improve. Ask your customers for their opinions and what matters to them. Prioritize, then start chipping away to make the world better for your customers!

Images created by Carol Buehrens