I will admit to conceiving this blog based on some really bad service where I felt that my personal issues were exactly that – mine. Nobody else was overly bothered beyond a sympathetic sorry. I’d have been appalled if any human had not been sorry for what was negligence. I wanted a little more than sorry, and no, not in the “what can I get out of this situation” way, just in the ownership of the issue, some personal adoption of it from a named person within the company and swift resolution. I wanted to get back on with my life.
Many things we buy do not affect our lives too much and frankly, we could all recant tales of buying milk that was not quite right or a jumper that refused to keep any shape despite manically following care instructions. As a store manager, I was used to dealing with these issues swiftly and with a minimum of fuss. I mean, even if the chicken was off and the suggestion it had ruined grandmas 90th birthday, the damage was usually fairly limited. Most trained service people have it within their gift to resolve swiftly.
A competent leader should be obsessed with customer care
Then we come to Telecoms and the industry where perhaps more than any other (apart from the medical/pharmaceutical industries) if it goes wrong it has an enormous effect. Having worked with MTN, a telecoms provider in Africa, I am well aware that unless competent leadership becomes obsessed with customer care, then it will end in frustration and disgruntled customers jeopardising early adoption of any new players in the market.
If in business you are without the immediate means of communication for a prolonged time you will be telling every person you know of the poor service you are getting. Likewise, if you are a “permanently connected” youth the amount of vitriol likely to be aimed at the provider is huge. It is a harshly judged environment based on the consequences for the customer of non-delivery.
I recently suffered 15 days of poor service from my telecom provider with nobody owning the problem (except me). It took someone to feel real and genuine empathy and own the problem personally, to resolve what should have been a simple solution. (Thank you Veronica !).
There is always one customer that talks with their feet
There is no point in mentioning the provider as by the time you read this I will have downloaded all my messages and will have moved my business elsewhere. You see there always is one, and if you think there isn’t, then you are probably already on a slippery slope.
The lesson in all of this is that if you are a senior executive within a company, how much time do you truly dedicate to listening to customers; not just the NOP data or the focus data run by the insight team, but actually looking at the most recent complaints file and phoning a few up? You will gain an insight not only into the original issues your customers face but the attitude your customers feel from within your own team. Priceless.
One thing I know for sure is that usually in any boardroom I have witnessed direct customer feedback is the most powerful influencing tool. It’s just a shame that too many senior execs don’t realise it.