Plasters for Sale.
I don’t have much hair left these days however whilst dealing with a particular global ‘leader’ of internet services this week I swear I’m as bald as a coot.
It made me think about the ethics of good business practice & giving great customer service, what really matters these days? Yes, there are so many details for analytics & customer insights, but what use are they if the principles of customer satisfaction is poor? What happens when something goes wrong?
Technology these days runs at an electric pace, the capabilities & possibilities are endless. I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone the other week when he said to me “hang on a second, someone’s ringing my door bell”. I could hear him having a conversation with the postman before he returned his attention to me. I thought you were in London? “I am, I’ve got this new thing that has a camera on it so when someone rings the door-bell an app opens & I can talk to them on the phone. It has a video camera that automatically records live footage when I give them the access code to the door lock & then it resets the alarm when the door closes.”.
So much for putting missed deliveries under the wheelie bin of your next-door neighbour.
But where does it end? I’m not for a second suggesting that technology is a bad thing however there do seem to be managers & businesses investing in new advancements & processes because, well it sounds really great. The question I ask is what’s point if the basic principles aren’t in place? Surely, you’re just delaying the inevitable?
So how do you know if you have the foundations for your teams or your customers in place? It should come as a surprise but in too many cases you just don’t know unless you ask. So why don’t businesses or managers ever ask? I remember reviewing the NPS profile that a Company sent out to its customers after a sale. It made sure that everything they wanted the customer to hear was captured but how did we know that it was consistent with what they thought (the customer) was a great experience? It was just another stick to beat people with, the ill-judged assumption that NPS was a direct reflection of the customer receiving great service. Were you told of our latest offers, did you purchase one of our add on’s. That reminded me of the time one of my managers got caught in the lift with the CEO. Proud as Larry he asks “So, what did you think of our add on’s last week?” His look of confusion & dismay when the CEO asks him “What’s an add on?” I know you think I’m making it up but I swear to you I’m not. The irony was these add on’s were adding €000’s of un-forecasted profit straight to the bottom line & he had no clue.
It’s almost the same as having a company forum with hand-picked employee’s & a pre-agreed agenda. Crazy, but sure having a forum sounds great.
So, back to the customer service. I’ve worked in business now for over 30 years. In all that time, targets, KPI’s, extended guarantee’s, PPI, essentials all have been on the table. Customer service? Well, we have policies for that.
It moved me onto what actually motivates a person to do their job? We can talk about Maslow’s hierarchy & Kilman & other theories before questioning whether, when you think about it, how many of your staff in front level positions fully understand & can comprehend the Hierarchy of Needs? Yet HR & L&D teams will study these theories, talk about them in meetings or when writing new policies for the business at will. Why can’t we just ask the teams themselves what they think? So many times I hear people say (even yesterday) ah take no notice of her she’s always so negative. Really? Why? 9 times out of 10 it’s due to a disagreement with you in the past & therefore she’s now always negative.
Interestingly we then picked up the unconscious prejudice that we all carry in some form or another & how fascinating that becomes when your personal bias shows itself. We just don’t have the conversation & I for the life of me, don’t understand why.
The first time as a manager I received my first 360 feedback it took me about 3 months to let it fade, digesting it & accepting that it was really me the team were describing. It happened every 6 months after that. Making sure that the way I was interacting with my team was impacting on the way they were interacting with our customers & ultimately our results. Yet still we hear the horror stories of people being fired from their roles for miss-selling or falsifying numbers. Why? Because of the pressures they are put under by people who have no real understanding of their impact or influence. It would seem that in some cases (not all) the higher you get the less you care about your impact or influence. Terrifying really don’t you think?
There are people you meet throughout your career, during your weekly grocery shop or when you decide to make a purchase of any product in a retail store. They all have personalities good & bad, families, bills, challenges of one sort or another. What impression do they leave you with? I’d bet you could recall several of the bad ones? What about the good ones? What was the difference & why do you think it was? I’ve been very fortunate to have met & worked alongside hundreds maybe even thousands of people over the years & there are many who stand out as being exceptional (in my humble opinion) at what they did. Fundamentally, the one thing they all had & hopefully still have, was a smile on their face because they loved what they did. Not everyone of course, but that’s where teamwork & leadership come in to ensure first & foremost that they are ok as well as having everything they need to get that smile back on their face.
So back to the beginning of the story, I can have insights, demographics, age & gender reports, even a report telling me whether they accessed our site via handset or desktop. It seems the only thing I can’t have is a good service provided by someone who loves what they do. Someone to take time when I need it to help me get the best of the product. I think that’s a real shame & really unhealthy for future teams in any organisation.