I had a great conversation with a client today. It was all about customer service. Something I noticed was a common theme that I’ve been seeing. My client was complaining about his customers. At first I thought he had a point. The more I listened the more I realized that he was the problem. He kept complaining about how hard his customers are to please. After just a few minutes, it was very obvious even to him that his customers just want what they purchased.
My client is the one that has changed his policies over the last few months and customer service has taken a backseat to profitability and payback. The payback is what got me. He has let a few clients take advantage of him in the past and to even things out, he is now charging everyone for services that were once included with their purchase. His customer support has basically gone from one extreme to the other.
This whole conversation got me thinking….
It seems like in this economy (by the way, the economy really isn’t that bad… Have you been to the mall or a restaurant lately? The lines in those places tell me a different story) you would want to do everything you can to keep customers and get new ones. But what I have seen is the opposite. A lot of companies are charging for things they never have before and customer service is at an all-time low in a lot of places.
Here’s a great example of poor customer service. The other day I took our girls through McDonald’s. Now I don’t expect much from their support, but this was crazy. We waited quite a while in the line, but the kicker was when we got to the window. The girl at the window was very rude when she asked, “that soda, did you want ice with that?”. My wife and I were both stunned. We were thinking, “is that extra now?”. Maybe ice isn’t standard anymore? So the girl rolls her eyes and tosses our cup in the trash, shuts the window and walks off. I was quite stunned. The sad thing is that this girl will be stunned if she loses her job for poor performance. What a generation… But that’s another blog.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty simple guy. When I buy something and the box says the product does something, call me CRAZY, but I expect it to do what it says! That isn’t expecting a lot if you ask me.
So what’s driving this behavior? A lot of things if you ask me. Here are my top 6 things causing this problem.
1. The dot.com boom started it. Simply put, people got lazy when they thought they could just build a site and the business would come. The concept of giving a damn about customers went out the window because millions would line up to buy their services.
2. The “ME” and “Gen X or Y” generation. I could easily get on a rant here, but as I said, that’s not what this blog is about. The concept that “my” needs and feelings are more important than anyone or anything else makes it hard to find employees who really care about anything more than a paycheck.
3. What’s in it for me attitude. This is tied to number 2, but shared by a lot of folks. It’s a strange attitude being shared by CEO’s and business owners these days. A what’s in it for me attitude asks, “what would I get out of this and what can you do for me?” instead of; “How can I help you?”.
4. Lack of vision. This is a big killer in business. People just don’t realize how important vision is. If you don’t know where you are going, it makes it tough to get there. Without a vision, no one on your team will know what you are trying to accomplish. A great vision includes phrases like, “we are the best in the world at”, “we are global leaders in the market”, “we provide exceptional customer service”. A vision defines who you are and where you are going as a company, but more importantly, it acts as a filter for decisions.
5. Poor leadership. Many business owners today are great at the business they do, they just suck as business owners. I know that sounds harsh, but its a fact. Think about it, the best plumber in the world probably doesn’t know jack about marketing and sales if they have never done it. So how can that person lead a team if they have never done it. Being a great leader is part learned behavior from watching great leaders and part educating yourself. But most business leaders are so distracted by their business that they don’t take the time to really develop themselves. And one last thing on this, you don’t lead by talking to people. You lead by DOing. Setting an example by rolling up your sleeves and sweating alongside your team! As you can see, I’m a bit passionate about this one.
6. Lack of accountability. This is a favorite of mine. One of the best things about being a coach is that I tell my clients right up front that they can’t fire me. They are now accountable to me. I also get their credit card on file and authorization to charge them anytime they break my rules. Now, we agree on the rules upfront and they have a chance to add or take away from the rules, but once the rules are locked it, it’s GAME ON! A lot of business owners and leaders get lazy in this area and don’t make themselves accountable to their team.
Wow, what a motivational post. More of a rant than anything. But here’s the good news. Part 2 of this post talks about correcting the problem. Please read on…