Blind to the obvious – Part III

In the previous post I pointed out that CRM, Customer Experience and Customer Marketing teams are blind to the need to rethink and redesign the deep structure of the organisational operating system.  In this post I want to point out another blindness.

CRM, Customer Experience and Customer Marketing teams (and the elite in their organisations – the Tops) are blind to the fact that customers are more than economic beings or consumers of goods – they are people, they are human beings.

Customers are people:  they are human beings and when dealing with organisations they want, even need, the human touch.  John McKean wrote a book titled ‘Customers Are People: The Human Touch‘ which spells out what the human touch includes: Appreciation (acknowledge me), Respect (treat me respectfully), Trust (your actions must match your promises so that I can trust you).  Personally, I do not believe that John McKean goes far enough.  Today customers have a voice, express that voice through the Internet and want companies to hear and act on that voice – to enter into conversation with them.

Now it is quite possible to acknowledge a person in a way that the person does not feel acknowledged.  Too many organisations are collecting data and passing this onto their front line staff so that they can ‘acknowledge’ the customer.  Yet the humanity of the acknowledgement if missing – try it for yourself with the world ‘hello’.  You can say this word with reverence, with affinity, with care or you can say it in a rushed way or in a robotic way.   This is one practical example of being blind to the fact that customers are human beings with human needs, there are plenty more  – which I will not go into right now.

As a business coach I worked with my brother when he set up his car sales, servicing and valeting business.  At the end of the design phase we agreed some simple rules that drive the way that his business treats his customers:  treat each and every customers as if he/she is father, mother, brother or sister.  As a result of practicing this philosophy all of his business today – several years later – is referral business.  Customers come back again and again and they bring their family, friends and close work colleagues with them.

When you get that customers are people – human beings – you get that Customer Service in the fullest sense is the key: how you greet, welcome, talk with and treat customers when they are buying from you, when they have problems with using your products or service.  In this world, marketing as usually practiced has only a secondary and limited role to play.  Why? To a large extent your customer do the marketing for you – you can make it easier for them to do that by providing a platform like Amazon does to rate vendors and the products.

Blind to the obvious – part II

I asserted in my last post that  many if not most organisations working on customer initiatives are blind to the obvious.  What specifically do I mean?

Organisations of all kinds (including businesses) are blind to the need to rethink and redesign the deep structure of the organisational operating system.  A deep structure that is brilliantly designed for the 20th Century (to push out and push on to customers the products and services that the organisation has produced) and totally inadequate for the needs of today.  A structure which encourages substantial investments in marketing and sales to ‘conquest’ customers whilst simultaneously insisting that every effort is made to cut the operating costs associated with supporting these ‘conquests’ in their post-purchase needs – cuts in customer service, field service, technical support.  A structure in which the right mind does not talk with the left – where Marketing is making x-sell and up-sell offers to customers who have already made complaints to Customer Services.  A structure  where there is talk of customer relationships and customer loyalty (which require a long-term play) yet the focus of effort is to do whatever it takes to make the revenue and profit numbers today.  A structure which spends millions on CRM projects whose impact – on the whole is – customer alienation and higher customer dissatisfaction.  A structure which rests on deception: making a set of promises (to the customer) that the organisation knows that it is unable and/or unwilling to deliver.  A structure that encourages keeping the customer at a distance and thus discourages any form of authentic customer engagement lest that customer see behind the veil of the story that the organisation tells to outsiders.

I will look at another perspective on being ‘Blind to the obvious’ in my next post.