There are a lot of excuses that come up when a company is rationalizing why they can’t become more customer-focused. In my 27 years in this business, I have heard a lot of them. Here are three common ones that I hear all the time. I also offer a counter argument for each excuse.
Excuse #1: “We don’t have a good way to communicate efficiently with our customers. We don’t have access to their emails.”
What you should be doing instead: You really need to be accumulating customer emails in your customer database. I guarantee your sales and account reps are communicating with customers in this way. In the information economy, customer contact information is a corporate asset. Start treating it as such.
Excuse #2: “Our sales reps stay very close to our customers. We trust them to tell us everything we need to know about our customer relationships."
What you should be doing instead: Allowing the Voice of the Sales force to “proxy” as the Voice of the Customer is the equivalent of skipping your annual physical because you “feel OK”. Taking an accurate and objective measurement on the health of your relationships in regular intervals is essential to being customer-focused.
Excuse #3: “Now isn’t a great time to be talking to our customers. We’ve made some changes to our business model that could have affected them adversely. We don’t really want to stir anything up by asking for their opinions."
What you should be doing instead: The above excuse assumes that customers aren’t going to be talking about it anyway. If you are changing the business (and when are we not?) that is exactly the time when it is most critical to be monitoring the state of your relationships.
In our No Excuses approach, there are no valid reasons why companies should be avoiding or delaying initiatives that improve the understanding of how customer relationships affect business performance. This is the mandate for customer advocates.
Originally posted in Customer Connection on June 23, 2009.