This past summer I started feeling the urge to shed a few pounds. I’m not trying to be more attractive, mind you. I’m already married so I don’t really need to look good anymore.
I decided to buy an elliptical machine and found a great deal on one at a local mega-chain sports store. While I was checking out, I asked about delivery options and was told I’d have to use a third-party delivery company, since the store didn’t offer that service. They handed me a (paper!) form to fill out and told me the delivery company would be contacting me soon.
About 2 or 3 days later, the national office of the delivery referral service emailed me. My conversation with them was long and tedious, so I’ll just summarize it here.
Delivery company email: Hey! You want to get something delivered, right?
My reply: Sure! That’d be great. How do we get that done?
Delivery company reply 2-3 days later: Okay, great! First we need to confirm that you want it delivered and agree to pay us.
My reply: Sure. No problem!
Delivery company reply 2-3 days later: Okay, we’re going to send you a form for you to fill out with your credit card information.
My reply: Sure. Cool. Whatever you need. Go ahead and send it. I’m right here sitting at my computer waiting for it.
Delivery company reply 2-3 days later: Sends form for me to fill out.
My response: Fill out form and send it to them.
Delivery company reply 2-3 days later: We received your credit card information. Now we will contact someone in your area to deliver your stuff.
My reply: Yes! Yes! Yes! Whatever! Just do it!
A few days later I was contacted by a local delivery service and they scheduled an appointment (for a few days later) to deliver my dadgum, stinkin’ elliptical machine, that I now hate even thinking about.
See anything wrong with this interaction? Of course you do, and the reason you do is that the standard for service is much higher these days. That is largely due to the quiet influence of Amazon.com. Over the past several years, they’ve established the standard of ordering a product with very few clicks, after which you normally receive your items in a couple days. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’ve changed the way we think about commerce.
“But how does that affect me?” you ask. “Amazon isn’t my competitor!”
Maybe not, but it’s important that you realize that they have subtly, subconsciously trained our entire culture to expect transactions to be easier and quicker. If a conversation takes more than two or three interactions, we start feeling a bit put out, don’t we?
So what does this mean to all of us business people?
1] What worked 5 years ago is now severely outdated, if not downright archaic. And what worked 2 years ago is growing older by the minute.
2] We need to be brutally honest about our processes. If anything–and I mean anything–stands between us and a customer spending money with us, it has to go. I can almost hear some of you saying, “But Charles! This is how we’ve always done it and it has worked just fine!”
To which I reply, your competition loves that you think that way and is hoping you don’t change. Meanwhile, they’re working on improving their systems so they can convince your customers to do business with them instead.
3] We have to raise the bar on our interactions with our customers. Responses have to be immediate and decisive. Every purchase, inquiry, phone call, and conversation needs to be efficient and prompt.
This means organizations that want to survive and thrive are going to have to (gasp) change. And, if we’re being completely honest with each other here, it ain’t gonna be any fun.
In my office we are implementing a completely new customer records management system that will help us accomplish all of the above. It’s taking an enormous amount of commitment, training, and adaptation, but we are excited and hopeful about the outcome these changes will produce.
What about you? What two or three things could you change to improve your customers’ experience? What perspective or process are you willing to change to make that happen?
And as you ponder these thoughts, just keep in mind that your competition might be reading this same article at this very moment. I wonder what will happen as a result?
© 2023 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site www.CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com or contact him via e-mail at Charles@CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com
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