What a customer wants is . . .

In this age of internet shopping, telephone call centres and automated customer service, what never ceases to amaze me is how few businesses are able to handle simple transactions like a change of address.

Amid the bombardment of direct mail, emails and SMS adverts generated by Customer Relationship Management systems, I ask myself whether a company that can’t even manage to record a change of address competently can handle a bigger challenge, such as a purchase?

I understand that mistakes are made sometimes; it is only human. Genuine errors, letters lost in the post and misunderstandings will always happen and I believe, where genuine, customers should actually show some understanding and forgiveness. We all have our off-days and, unless we can demonstrate that we are pefect ourselves, should not expect everyone else to be so.

But sloppiness, negligence and incompetence should not be tolerated. With the range of sophisticated systems and expertise available, no large organisation (either commercial or public sector) can have any excuse for not being able to manage such small, but vital transactions competently. Smaller organisations might not have the same level of resources as larger ones, although even they should strive to get the basics right.

Rather than wishing for everything possible, the modern consumer is reduced to wishing for a very basic level of service:

  • Please get my name and address right
  • Please charge me the right amount
  • Please provide the right item to the right address on time

But it need not be like this. Many problems relating to very simple transactions could be eliminated by a positive attitude from companies. Employees who are interested in their work, who understand the need to obtain accurate information, record it in the right way and action any changes or special requests, can make a big difference.
Many customers, if their expectations have not been raised to unrealistic levels, will be satisfied with such a level of service, especially when provided politely.

It will also make a very big difference to the performance of a business:

  • fewer errors
  • reduced workload for customer service departments
  • lower costs
  • more satisfied customers
  • repeat purchases

These results are not just ‘nice to have’, but can have a visible impact on a company’s profits. And at no extra cost, they should even make the financial director happy.

To focus on the small, but vital issues that can make such a difference to your organisation, please view or download our latest please and thanks polite prompt on “what a customer wants is . . .

The most important customer needs are very simple, but satisfying them requires total commitment, enthusiasm and motivation at every level of an organisation.

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