Writing about the Intelligent Enterprise was slowly maturing with a stack of ideas playing tag in my mind. This post translates my view at the present and will, as we humans work, evolve with time. So stay tuned.
I recently tweeted “How a business rewards its employees says a lot on how it rewards its customers and v-v”. Today’s corporation leverages on service (throughout customer lifecycle) as a key differentiating factor. Yet, time and time again, businesses invest heavily on technology that bear the “client” tag or contract with top CRM consulting firms and believe, in so doing, that they’ll graduate from Client School.
It’s like getting the best quality ingredients for a Tiramisu recipe and thinking that the rest will happen by magic. It won’t. It starts with a passion for gastronomy followed (or preceded) by the joy of seeing your guests’ taste buds do the hoola-hoop.
Two words: passion and empathy. By passion, I do not mean pursuing an interest without boundaries, but making sure it is able to blossom within organizational (necessary) rules. By empathy, I do not mean blind generosity, but being able to assess situations and persons honestly while still having to make concessions to meet company goals.
Back to service as key differentiator. Do businesses leverage both passion and empathy in the way service is rendered? As a customer, you’ll go out looking for hints: do CSRs respond happily to my requests (my father always used to say, when working for him during summers, ‘I can tell when you’re smiling over the phone’) ? Are e-mail inquiries replied in a timely and friendly manner? Does the salesperson go beyond initial client request and show enthusiasm in doing so?
Let’s say if, once in a rare while, you end up having a poor service experience, you may think “hey, it wasn’t his (her) day” and pursue your relationship with that business anyway. But if this pattern occurrs at different touch points and regularly, not only may your perception of the company change, but you may question its empathy and passion. Is this a good company to be working for? Do I, as a client, want to continue buying from a company whose employees seem dissatisfied?“.
Corporations do not acquire client DNA overnight. More often than not, top management is not necessarily fully aware of these “operational” issues and assesses client satisfaction based on middle management reporting. Not surprisingly, as @philterry said, it is typical of most corporate CEOs who “don’t spend any time with individual customers” and I’ll add “employees”. Who’s that CEO that spent a year in the field upon his appointment? I can’t recall but that guy had a vision and before implementing it, needed to understand the way the organization worked from top to bottom. He eventually saw discrepancies and worked to solve them. A year spent in the field! That’s someone who cares (empathy) and understands that an organization is a sum of its parts that make up its success.
Bottom line, client technology is good, client culture is better. Yet, it has to find its way around the entire organization. Before making a high-energy webcast on client acquisition and how to empower employees, leaders need to spend time in the field, run a full audit of the organisation, and define a change strategy.