customer

It may be better for leaders to take a step back and stop complaining about their customers. For example, “They’re too demanding” or “They always have something negative to say and they look for discounts”.  Well, have you ever tried to be your own customer?

According to an American Express 2011 Survey, 3 in 5 Americans (59%) would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. In other words,customer loyalty goes out the window when the service and experience is poor.

What does your business do to measure the customer experience and satisfaction?

There are many companies that can assist you with their “time tested” product and strategies that measure customer engagement. They will recommend countless ways to overcome any negative impact. But there is a quicker, cheaper, and better way to measure the customer experience.

Pretend to Be Your Own Customer

Stop looking at your flow charts or profit and loss statements as they don’t tell you what or where the issues are, only the revenue lost because of your mistakes.

Get out of your office and into “the field”. Experience the exact same scenario as any other cash-paying customer. How many touch-points do your customers experience during a transaction?  And better yet, where does the first touch point start?

Think of yourself as a first time customer of any business! Let’s use a restaurant as an example.

Today you’re hungry, and decide to try that new restaurant about a mile down the road.  Maybe your first contact is with their website. Is the site easy to navigate and can you find the address or hours of operation within two or three clicks?  Or must you scroll or click page after page to find that information?

In this case, you click away until you finally find their address.

Restaurant

Is their latest menu posted on the site?  If not, are you still willing to drive there without knowing if you like their style of food?

You found the phone number, and decided to give them a call. The phone rings for what seems like an eternity. Finally, someone picks up and in a rushed tone says hello.

Questions to Ask

Without going too far into this situation, do you have a great impression of this restaurant?  Assuming you are willing to try this restaurant, here are a few more items to gauge.

  • Is there ample parking?
  • Were you warmly greeted upon entering?
  • Were you seated quickly or told there is a long wait?
  • Are the menus clean and easy to read?
  • Are the servers knowledgeable about the food and drink?
  • Was your food prepared as intended and served on time?

If you answered no to one or more of these, isn’t the negative comments and feedback from your customers justified? Or are they ‘just complaining’?

The customer experience is set by the positive touch points before receiving your product.

  • In a retail store, are your aisles straight with all the products organized?
  • Is your in-store signage clear and accurate?
  • Have you staffed enough employees to service the anticipated amount of customers?

How can this experience be what you expect when there are so many obstacles to overcome?

But you sit in your office and wonder why business is bad and you bemoan your customers. “They’re becoming so difficult” you say.

Your reports don’t tell you if your employees are customer centric or employee centric.  What is more important to them, finding ways to assist your customer in a sale or what nightclub your coworker went to last night?

Value is Subjective

Your customer is demanding, and wants a discount. Why is that?  Maybe the price doesn’t match the service given or its expected value. The customer deserves nothing less and it’s your job to match the price to its value.

Many will happily spend more if the perceived benefit of your product and service is higher than what another business has to offer.

But how do you value your product?  What is it like to be a customer of your business? What experience would you have if you tried to buy from you?

Maybe it’s time to pretend to be your own customer.

How Can Leaders Learn About Their Customers?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Steve DiGioia
A 25+ year hospitality veteran, customer service trainer, coach, author & speaker and known as the "go-to guy", Steve has developed high performance service teams through increased leadership engagement, attention to detail and anticipating the customer’s needs. Steve is a featured contributor to many of the hospitality industry's leading publications and continues his original customer service, leadership and management-based writings on his popular blog.
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