To be successful, in any business, we need to give our customers what they
want, in a way that works for our business. We should focus on doing what our
customers want AND what we can do well.
Then we need to do it well. In fact we should do it better than anyone else
in our market. And we need to do it that way with every customer every time no
exceptions and no excuses.
But we all have a big obstacle that stands in our way. We never really know
how good we are. Or, to be more precise, we never know how good our company is
in the eyes of our customers. This is because we can only see our company from
OUR perspective. If you’re the owner or manager or otherwise removed from the
front line then your vision of your company is even more obscured.
However, there is a solution. There are people who see our companies as they
really are. They see every transaction. They experience every customer contact.
They understand exactly how our company delivers its products and services.
They’re called customers and employees.
No one else sees your company like they do. The sum of their experiences make
up your company’s reputation, your corporate karma and in many ways, your brand.
They alone know how well your company is doing.
The problem is (in most companies anyway) these two groups of people have no
compelling reason to do anything with this information. They have no reason to
remember it or to evaluate it in any way. Even worse, they typically have no way
to share it with anyone.
Knowing this, you can do two things to help your company perform at its best.
First, create ways to tap this goldmine of information in your customers and
employees. Build processes that ensure you are connecting with them on a
regular, frequent and ongoing basis. And develop feedback mechanisms that make
it easy for customers and employees to share what they know. The golden rule
here is “get everyone involved”.
Second, create standards. These standards should tell your customers what to
expect when they do business with you. And they should tell them why they should
business with you. They’ll help differentiate you from your competition. Some
companies call these “customer service standards”. Others call them a “brand
promise”. What you call them is not as important as creating and publishing
When your employees have standards like these, they’ll know what experience
they are accountable to deliver to their customers. It paints a picture for
them. It tells the customers what to expect every time they do business with
you. And it gives management a roadmap and helps them know what they need to
empower their employees to do.
Having these standards will help customers and employees know how to evaluate
their actual experience against what’s expected. They’ll understand the goal,
the actual expereince and the gap. This helps them more easily communicate that
gap to management.
And that’s what you need to know. The gap tells you how good you really are.
The gap that is identified by employees and customers is the only true measure
of whether you’re giving your customers what they want.
Focus on that and you’ll increase customer loyalty like never before.