I was reading this article by Doc Searls on How do you maximize the help that companies and customers give each other? It's a lovely commentary of how companies make it difficult & complicated for customers to do business with them but surprisingly companies that use common/similar systems/backend actually do a brilliant job. So, what makes this difference in customer experience?
As I think back to many of my interactions with companies, it is so true. Think for yourselves as you read my experience:
- When I wanted to redeem my frequent flier points, I was told there are black-out dates and I cannot redeem them! My airline – Jet Airways – made it so difficult that I decided to move away from them silently. The relationship & effort was just not worth it.
- I received a pack from Citibank and they had a coupon which said "Fly with your companion Free!" I called the call centre and I was told this was available only for full fare seats! That's crazy I thought. When I have an option to fly at competitve rates, why would I fly full fare!
- My bank decided to upgrade and downgrade me basis my bank balance, usage – they wanted to maintain the relationship on their terms not on my terms. I just did not see value.
- It's frustrating my mobile service provider – Vodafone sends me 6 different packs of bills and reminders for me to pay in a month with different dates, as if it is 5 different relationships while all my subscriptions are within me & my family! Not once was I called by the relationship manager to consolidate, customize them & help. I call their call centre often enough. I am their customer now for over a decade!
The real question that companies should ask themselves hard is, do they really talk to customers or do they end-up managing a process?
If they really talk to each other then customer intelligence needs to get understood, captured and there must be incremental improvements made every time to the relationship & the product or service – that's simple, convenient & authentic.
For sure, the customers will sense it.