I've had it in mind to write on this subject for a while. It is so easy to find examples where companies don't look after their customers as much as they should, but harder to find examples where they do.
Unfortunately, my experiences lately have been more negative than positive; and I find that surprising when everyone is saying they are different and understand their customers; and even more bizarre in a down economy.
The idea is that if you find a great product or service that people want and focus on great customer service, the market will reward you.
If that is true, why do so many companies do the opposite?
In "Built to Last" by Jim Collins (et al) they discovered that visionary companies had a core focus on something more than just making money. It was not always primarily the customer. It was usually about being great at something though.
Some were focused on things like improving the world through creating innovative products. The customers came after the innovation. Of course this doesn't mean that that the customer was not important, it is just which one comes first.
But still, that was 20 years ago. I think the customer is getting more difficult to please today. Competition is more fierce and the Internet makes communication immediate. Even if you have a different primary "vision" for the company, the customer must feel like they are key.
So why do so many get it wrong?
- Making promises they don't or can't keep,
- A different experience online than in a physical store (price, service, expectations),
- Not keeping customers up to date on work in progress; why do I have to ask repeatedly for a status?
- Focusing on themselves and short-term profit over long-term customer satisfaction,
- Late delivery,
- Not returning calls or e-mails,
Sometimes it only takes one mistake and your customer is gone… and they are expensive to replace.
Some are getting it right. Are you?
Every company can do a better job of looking after the customer.