A friend was telling me a story a month ago about when they moved their son into his dorm room at university for his freshman year.
They were carrying all manner of bags and items for his room and walking up the sidewalk to the dorm entrance. Except they had to take a wide berth from the water covering the sidewalk as the sprinkler watered the lawn and sidewalk.
My friend asked the university staffer if he could please adjust the spray so the sidewalk, and all the people using it, would not get wet.
The worker answered with, “I was told to water the sod.” After briefly suggesting that it would not harm the sod too much, my friend asked for the person’s name. It was not provided. And when he asked for the supervisor’s name, the worker walked away.
This is almost like the big US DIY store that leaves its sprinkler system on when it is pouring rain. I believe this because I saw this.
Here is another example of a poor message and an employee not taking the best action for the customer.
Another friend and his wife were going to a bank (you know my rule about not pointing out companies that are not doing well) for a meeting with a financial advisor. The sign at the counter when you first walk in said:
Please See The
There was nobody sitting behind this sign at the front desk. The teller stations are a few steps away. On the way out of the bank, my friends saw that the sign had been placed upside down.
And a third situation was brought to my attention. A friend was returning his towel to the young lad at the front desk at his gym. He was asked for his name so the staff person could retrieve his card. He has a Ukranian last name and spelled the first few letters to help out. After a brief search, and without looking up, the young man asked, “Do you have another name?”
Folks, you cannot make this up.
In both cases, successful organizations can be undone by simple messages or actions that are what people really remember.
The senior leadership likely have no clue that these types of situations arise on a daily basis. And I am not even looking hard for these stories! Can you imagine what can be uncovered with a disciplined review of all customer touch points???
Whatever happened to MBWA? For the uninitiated this is “Management by Walking Around.” Not aimless meandering, but a specific route and with open eyes to really see what happens in their business. This can also be a visit to a customer or a ride-along with a sales rep. It might be sitting in on an IT planning session – listening, and not saying anything. What does your ad agency discussion with the marketing team really sound like? Have you spent time on the loading dock or been a passenger on a transport run?
The key is to listen and observe. And if you schedule your time you will actually make it happen. Talk is cheap.
If you really believe your people and customer service are what sets you apart from competitors, I suggest you take a second look. I also suggest some mystery shopping of your services in every department. And the capper will be a review of your customer culture.
I have the tool 🙂
Once you know what customers really think, internal and external customers, then you can look for weak spots and areas to reinforce because you are doing well in these areas. Build off your strengths and address a weakness on a secondary basis, unless it could be, or is, debilitating. In this case you must address it immediately.
Do you then advise your company what you saw? Will you involve your staff at all levels for input on getting better? All great solutions do NOT only reside in the C-Suite.
This is all marketing. It is the sum of activities that can help gain and keep, or lose, a customer. Argue with me about the semantics of whether it is marketing, or if you think it is customer service, strategy, or whatever. I won’t get fussed. The main objective is to conduct the activities and get better every day. You know, use common sense.
But, since common sense isn’t so common, figure out what makes sense for your customers, and make sure you help your employees understand that they need to make good, common sense, decisions. And sometimes this means calling an audible and adjusting the sprinkler.
Or bringing an umbrella for the new students and their families walking into the dorm.