SPIF Tip # 14 – Why You Need to Improve Customer Facing Functions
A chemical company could not understand why revenue continued to increase only modestly. It had, after all, invested much time and research into making sure its products had the most sought-after attributes identified by its customers. Finally, the senior executives started speaking with customers directly, asking questions such as, “What do you like about doing business with us?” and “What don’t you like?” And customers told them what was on their minds.
The executives were shocked to learn that customers loved their products but hated everything else about doing business with them: inaccurate bills, incomplete deliveries, failure to return phone calls promptly, and on and on. In the customer’s minds, the product often wasn’t worth the hassle!
As Joiner goes on to point out, customers care about more than just the product or service they are buying. They pay attention to all of their interactions with your company. Likewise, you should pay attention to all of your interactions with your customers, ideally without interrupting them with “research” into how you are doing. You can accomplish this by gathering data in the normal course of those interactions as you go about your daily work.
Ask yourself, or the managers of your customer facing departments, “How to you track the quality of your customer interactions?” Are these interactions inspected or evaluated on a regular basis? If not, institute a regular cyclical review in order to find and implement ways of measurably improving the quality of customer interactions. Tiny improvements here can go a surprisingly long way.
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 Brian Joiner, Fourth Generation Management: The New Business Consciousness, (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1994) 67-68