THE PROBLEM: Many companies think they are doing a far better job of engaging with, serving, and supporting customers than they are.
THE SOLUTION: Take a hard look at your Customer Sat process. Is it self-serving, subject to manipulation... or brutally honest?
The following incident prompted me to write today's blog. Recently, I called to arrange a cab from my home to the airport. This task is always a challenge, as the cab company has a virtual monopoly on taxi service from my hometown to the airport.
I expected the poor service I usually get from this company: no call to alert me when the cab was on the way; late arrival; and a surly attitude from a sullen, monosyllabic driver. I may have to use this company, but I would never, ever recommend it enthusiastically to a friend.
This time, however, I was amazed to discover that I was being treated to a higher level of service than usual. I received an advance call to confirm the details of my pick-up time. They were on time...and, I even experienced a pleasant attitude from the driver!
I soon found out why: This was a new driver who had just started working for the company!
My good feeling evaporated when I realized that I had been used to terrible service for so long that these positive interactions actually seemed like luxuries!
They weren't. What I had experienced was actually the bare minimum for professional-level airport transport.
This company doesn't "get it" when it comes to customer service. They had somehow managed to hire a driver, outside their norm, who "got it". The underlying culture of disregard for the customer was still well entrenched. I found that out when I made my return trip!
Yet ... when I see the owner of the company, he delights in telling me about their customer-centric practices and high satisfaction scores! He tells me that his business philosophy is rooted in listening to customers! And he truly believes it. But from direct personal experience, I can assure you that, of his thirty or so drivers, precisely one was capable of delivering a minimally acceptable customer experience!
Here's the point: Most executives tend to think that they are doing a far better job of engaging with, serving, and supporting their customers than they really are.
I call the difference between your wishful thinking and real customer experiences ... the Customer Gap.
Too often, marketers hold their customers hostage, because they believe that there are few or no viable options available to consumers. In an age of rapid technological change and sudden, transformational market shifts, this is an extremely dangerous game.
Often without realizing it, companies get complacent about the dangerously wide gap between what consumers have been promised and what they actually experience in the real world. They stop communicating effectively with their customers, and they get used to delivering a barely acceptable (or even an unacceptable!) level of service.
In an age of empowered, social-media-savvy consumers who can be expected to tell a global audience exactly how they feel about our brand, is that really where we want to be?
- Take a hard, honest look at your Customer Sat Process, including the metrics and questions which determine "satisfaction".
- Evaluate whether those metrics are telling you what you want to hear, or what you have to know?
- Ask customers for in-depth feedback regarding their experiences with your company and the potential gap between what they expected ... and what they actually experienced.