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Customer-driven companies

Published on 5th August 2015
Customer-driven.  That's the name of the game. Work in healthcare? Change the word from customer to patient. Work in service?  Change it to client.  Same idea all the way around.

No company is perfect. No brainer, right? But when you're the customer sitting on the other side of the business office, what do you hope to get out of the relationship? Not perfection, but surely respect. Respect for the fact that you've handed over your money AND your trust with a simple expectation of honesty, quality, and a "stand-by-our-service/product" attitude from the organization.

Having worked in multiple industries, I've seen many organizations fail in promoting service excellence or providing proper and swift customer-service recovery. And in this day and age of digital media, negative comments can spread like wildfire. Just look at SeaWorld. Nuff said.

Don't think it can happen to you? Think again. Guess what customers have? Friends. Relatives. Neighbors. And computers, smart phones and tablets. If you neglect your service-recovery efforts when a customer vocalizes disappointment in your service/product, then you've increased your risk exposure. Personally, if I have a complaint and the offending company says, "Ms. Tokarz, how can we correct this for you?", I will return to do business again! Yes, regardless of my current dissatisfaction. Why? They've proven they are customer-focused ...standing behind my business relationship with actions.

No, you can't please everybody all of the time, obviously.  But are efforts and policies in place to minimize this risk? The following are just a few recommendations to ensure your organization increases its customer-focused efforts.

1. Hire right the first time! I can't stress this enough. Human capital is your greatest asset, or your worst enemy! Truly. There's nothing worse than getting an employee in a customer-contact position who has no sensitivity or people skills to handle customers. Screen, screen, screen.

2. Training. Provide quarterly or semi-annual service excellence training for employees. This gives you, the employer, one more opportunity to mold and shape how you want your company to be perceived by its customers. Your employees won't know your expectations unless you communicate/train it. While you're at it, putting policies in place to handle service recovery gives your employees solid footing on what they're able to do for the customer.

3. Reward service excellence and service efforts. Publish positive customer comments. Find ways to award when employees go above and beyond for a customer (a free day of PTO or a free lunch in the cafeteria anyone?). Highlight an employee's effective customer contact on the homepage of your website for all web visitors to see. 

4. If your company is large enough, have staff dedicated to monitoring and researching what's being said about your company online.  There are sites like "Ripoff Report" or "Better Business Bureau" as well as simple Google searches to reveal comments being published about your business ... and your reputation.  You'll be amazed that some of the gripes could easily have been resolved if someone was paying attention.

Valerie's Nugget:  Consider this the equivalent to monitoring your personal credit report. Once your credit "reputation" is tarnished, it takes work to regain it.  Better to stay on top of it and keep it clean than to try to repair and rebuild the damage done.

Best wishes,