As a customer have you ever felt that your supplier is just not listening? Recently my family and I were left stranded in Los Angeles for 4 days by a large international airline that flies from our local airport.
We all understand that situations beyond anyone’s control do occur and upset the best laid plans. However, what is hard to believe is that you have to fight to get any level of customer service and help from these big companies that are great on marketing spin and thin on delivering on their promise when situations like this occur. In brief we had no contact initiated by the airline to help us get home; we spent over 11 hours on the phone to fight to get back to Australia. The offending airline topped it all off by suggesting that we leave 4 of our young children in LA (alone) while they fly my wife, one of our children and myself home, all this when there were plenty of seats available on other airlines.
As small business owners and operators we have a tremendous opportunity to out manoeuvre our bigger competitors when it comes to customer relationships and facing the inevitable “Moments of Truth” when issues arise.
Jan Calzon (CEO of Scandinavian Airlines) in his book “Moments of Truth” detailed how he turned a floundering airline into a major player on the back of customer service. In every point of contact with your customers (clients / patients / prospects) there are moments of truth where you will decide to; either focus on that customer and their needs or; take the corporate line and do what suits you best.
Our recent experience highlighted many shortcomings in this airlines business systems, but more importantly their human systems failed. Their true culture was revealed by their actions (or lack thereof). There was no empathy with our situation; all we heard were reasons why they could not help.
Focus on your customers. Intelligent businesses back this up by investing in their business systems to help create a customer experience that is delightful, genuine and proactive – so what can you do in your business?
- Setup and maintain a database of customers, prospects, suppliers so you can communicate with them in a timely personalised manner.
- Empower your staff to focus on the customer when a complaint arises, empathy can deflect potentially explosive situations.
- Ask for feedback from your customers, survey them or call to see how things are going.
- Setup a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system that compliments the way you do business. It is the next must have software app for small business.
Business is about relationships, we all have Moments of Truth – however, by taking our eyes off ourselves and placing them onto our customers it gives us the ability to delight when a complaint arrives.