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The challenge is on. Let’s make 2016 the year of the customer.
Chatting with colleagues recently, we started to muse on the success of one particular company. Was it down to product or pricing, to a great marketing campaign or to its position in the market? It could be all or none of these, but my colleague hit the nail on the head when they argued that the secret of this organisation’s success was simply that clients liked dealing with them.
Of course, it’s never that simple. True, clients valued the company and saw their interactions with it as a positive thing but that recognition had only come about as a result of a lot of positive hard work. The company strategy was geared towards putting customers first. In order to carry out that strategy every aspect of the organisation from leadership development and employee engagement through to process design and product was geared to customer excellence. As a result, clients liked dealing with the business, and positively recommended it to their friends and contacts.
But why is this so remarkable? Why, when survey after survey has shown the positive benefits which arise from putting customers first, does the subject of customer satisfaction even arise? Surely by now it should be one of the basic assumptions which underpin every organisation. Well, sadly not! Admittedly, there are numbers of organisations out there, all of which are working hard in the best interests of their customers. Sadly, there are also plenty of businesses which see their customers as cash generators and little else.
Customer Care is more than just words
Of course, they won’t admit to it. Their websites may even be sprinkled with phrases such as customer care, customer excellence, saving you money, or putting you first. But delve behind-the-scenes and it’s a different story entirely. Aggressive sales targets, training which focuses on overcoming objections and getting the sale, are only the start. Overselling the product, shaving specifications, cutting corners in development and delivery all generate income or save costs. And then there’s shoddy premises, poor treatment of employees leading to disengagement and fast staff turnover, and a returns policy which is based more on encouraging the customer to give up and provide redress; all of which represent the final nail in the customer satisfaction coffin.
Luckily, customers are becoming more savvy and more vocal. Increasingly, people are not prepared to put up with businesses which promise much and deliver little. As more and more companies look towards providing customer centred innovative cultures, those who care little for customers will increasingly find that customers care little for them. So the challenge is on. Let’s make 2016 the year of the customer. Let’s turn cynicism and greed into customer care and great solutions. Let’s create businesses of which we can proudly say our clients like dealing with us.