For the past few years I have really been focusing on knowing your customer or you’ll have no customer. I am continually surprised how many companies say they want to know you but really do not.
I am fortunate to work with clients that do a wonderful job of knowing their customers and this courses through the entire organization. From knowing people by name and knowing all about their purchases, and this extends beyond retail, to knowing about them personally. This focus shows that you really care.
We take our vehicles to an auto maintenance shop, Frank Motors, that “promises to know you better”. And they do. Cars today are complex. And then you have warranty and other safety recalls that manufacturers send out. Dealerships must do the recall work. And here is where they fall down on knowing me better – they don’t. Frank’s does know me better. They know my habits and how the vehicles are driven. This helps when they are troubleshooting. No one at a dealership has ever asked me anything other than if my address is still correct. This is so the manufacturer can send me addressed ad mail touting cheap oil changes. Guess who gets my money and endorsements?
A good friend has a credit card from a financial institution. Has had one for decades. My friend was courted to take advantage of a special offer to obtain a new financial instrument. And when they went to the bank to put in a cheque they were told that a hold would be placed for a couple of days because “they didn’t know my friend well yet”. Hmmm, all those fees and charges for all those years apparently don’t count for getting to know you.
On a current project, I am investigating certain health care organizations in the US for a client. In one case Summa Health created a “Standard of Behavior – acts of Excellence” that was created to support its mission of servant leadership. The examples in the booklet are stellar. The first page begins with “I will…” and this is something that each employee believes in and carries out on a daily basis. Everything in the standards is based on this concept.
The “acts” are four areas:
- appearance and attitude
- courtesy, concern and communication
And the necessary actions are described in each area. It is simple and powerful. And it describes the organization’s purpose and how everyone has an important part to play for the delivery of outstanding healthcare to its patients and their families and to each employee and colleague.
It is not financial – it is personal. While we have to keep a close eye on revenue and expenses those are only outcomes of the actions of our people.
And in every company the people have an opportunity to make a difference – for their customers and their colleagues. How are you as a leader taking action to improve the level and quality of your customer interactions?
And when people have a purpose then they will get to know you, the customer, because it is the right thing to do. Not just because someone told them to do it.
Be Frank’s or Summa…don’t be the cold and unnamed financial institution or dealership.