Archive for category Service
When either of us mentions the name of our new book, Smart Customers, Stupid Companies, we get the same reaction: a laugh, followed by a nod.
Everyone gets it. We all know that customers are getting smarter, thanks to smart phones, smart wireless devices, and millions of apps–the vast majority of which entrepreneurs created. But companies have not kept up, and many established firms behave in a manner that customers think is stupid.
Here’s the thing: customers usually don’t take it personally. They just walk away, in increasing numbers: in 2011, nearly 90 percent said they’ll dump a brand after a single bad experience–compared to 68% in 2006.
At the same time, very few executives immediately think, “That’s us, our company acts stupidly.” They don’t see that the ways they’ve always done business are pushing customers out the door. Whoops.
So, to make matters crystal clear, here are five ways–leading indicators, if you will–to help you tell if you’re running a stupid company. Do any of these apply to your firm?
1) If your company closes–ever–you might be running a stupid company.
At many companies, customer service and support is provided only during certain hours: if you call after, say, 6 p.m. Pacific Time, technical support is closed. Seriously? Does the firm really expect that none of their products are installed or used after 6 p.m.?
Is customer service a lost art, or are today’s customers harder to please?
On the one hand, moments of tear-your-hair-out frustration are commonplace — from shopping in stores where sales associates are nowhere to be found, to dealing with salespeople unable to help locate a sought-after item, to encountering repetitive robotic voice messages that never lead to a live customer service rep. On the other hand, the rise of 24/7 help desks, ubiquitous pop-up bubbles on shopping websites that offer assistance, and the ease with which consumers can dress down businesses in 140-character tweets, have arguably made companies more attentive — and accountable — than ever before.
“We are more demanding,” says Peter Fader, professor of marketing at Wharton and co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative. “We have a ‘customer is king’ mentality, and we have come to expect world-class treatment. We want everything to be easy: simple customer returns, constant telephone access to the company and perfect products in every color. We’re just spoiled, plain and simple.”
Poor customer service isn’t a headache just for consumers; it’s a problem that vexes senior managers too. Balancing the trade-offs between the cost of services and the customer experience benefits they provide is difficult. Ensuring that frontline workers can efficiently and consistently execute service offerings across a far-flung organization is harder still. Along the way, many companies lose sight of what makes human beings tick—for instance, by overlooking well-known principles of behavioral science when delivering services—and thus unwittingly predispose customers to dissatisfaction.