There’s an old anecdote that’s probably apocryphal—at least for some brands that like to tout it—that certain Customer-centric companies are “so dedicated” to their Customers that they leave an empty chair at the table in the meeting room where their leadership gets together that is ostensibly to signify where the Customer would be sitting….i.e., their place at the table. The symbolic meaning of this is to emphasize that the decisions that are made at that level of responsibility should include a level of deference to what the Customers might want or may think about what’s going on in there.
It’s a little melodramatic (perhaps overwrought), and may not be your style of management, but at the time it came into popularity (or at least at the time the stories about it became more prevalent), it seemed to have some resonance. From time to time the story pops up when discussing some brand that has a reputation (earned or not) for great Customer-centricity, or it shows up in a business book here or there. I may have even mentioned it in my book.
But it occurs to me as I work with clients who are striving to become more Customer-centric: What a waste of a seat!
Why not hire someone to actually, y’know, sit in that seat? […]
I listen to a wide variety of podcasts…I’ve even appeared on quite a few of them myself. (“Appeared”? That doesn’t sound right for a podcast. Anyway.) In the jumble of all the great content, recently I was listening to one on which the guest made a reference to a movie that I hadn’t thought about in years. I wish I could remember where it was that I heard it (I’m not even necessarily sure it was a CX podcast) because I’d love to give credit. If it occurs to me, I’ll update this article, but in the meantime, here is the reference an what it made me think of:
I wrote a while back about how a big-box home improvement retailer made it less convenient for military folks to receive their in-store discount, while saying the purpose was to make it more so for us. My original comment was that, gee, it’s interesting, it seems, that every hassle I go through somehow or another always ends up benefitting them (by, for example, making their marketing to me more streamlined…again, for them).
That’s when I realized…the important three words should be: …for the Customer. When we’re making things easier, that should be our goal. Doing so for the Customer, not for us! […]
I’ve mentioned before that those of us in the CX profession are both the best and the worst Customers: the best because we are sympathetic to those in the Customer-facing trades, but also the worst because we expect so much and are always on the lookout for improvement opportunities—even if they’re opportunities for others to improve. Hey, we’re just here to help, and all that.
This observation will probably fall into the latter category, although it may likewise be seen as ‘First World Problems.’ What follows is in no way a gripe or complaint…just an observation. […]
I was in the post office the other day and experienced a perfect example of how we often miss the mark when it comes to communicating with our Customers. The guy in front of me was shipping some big box, and as the clerk was measuring its linear inches, she asked, “would you like to send this Ground or Priority?” Even standing behind the Customer, I could practically see the gears cranking in his head, just as they were for any of us within ear-shot. What the heck is the difference? I don’t care if you send it on the ground, or if you put it on a plane, because…well, it’s a priority for me that it gets there. I didn’t hear what he had to say (it was most likely a question of his own), as it was understandably delivered in a hushed tone.
The thing is, Ground and Priority mean something very specific to the clerk who works behind the counter at the post office. That’s because those are the brand names the USPS has given to its services. But the names themselves don’t readily translate in any informative way for their Customers to differentiate between them. While the clerk, with all her experience surely would have known, based on the Customer’s desires (read: job to get done), which would be the most logically preferable method of shipment—and the post office’s name for such a service—in the moment, standing at the counter with a line of people behind him all waiting their turn, this guy was having a minor panic. […]
We recently swapped service providers here at home for one of our communication services. The entire experience was a headache and we almost immediately regretted making the switch from our previous provider. What was so frustrating was that, no matter where we went to look for help, be it in a physical store, online, in the provider’s app, or over the phone, nobody could help us with our struggle and confusion.
It made me think about a common theme in CX thought-leader circles: channels. I’ve written before about the importance of being not necessarily just in all the channels, but those channels where your Customers want you to be. After all, if you’re spending resources to put together a chat function on your website, but due to the nature of your Customers’ profiles and your own Brand Promise, nobody really wants to chat online with you, then going to the expense and work of setting that up isn’t a wise use of your resources. “Omnichannel” is a cool-sounding word, but sometimes it’s a little overboard if nobody cares. […]