There’s no doubt about it, the customer rules in the new economy—an all too familiar mantra these days. Your customer is the “King” or “Queen” who tells you what they want, how they want it, what they are willing to pay for it, and most important, how they want to be serviced. They are the ones who determine whether your company will win or lose—and rest assured, if you don’t give them what they want, your competitor will.
Your company will win-over today’s demanding customers if you recognize that they are a valuable source of input for improving equipment and services, as well as a source for new ideas. So LISTEN TO THEM. Whether they are politely offering a suggestion or complaining, consider yourself lucky because they’re telling you what you need to do to keep them giving you their business.
Let’s use the airlines as an example. Have you ever wondered why the airlines-(Why is the airline industry, with all its troubles, still an easy target?)—don’t make some attempt to serve real food served on the plane? Sure, your ticket had “Snack” printed on it, but you held on to the blind hope that you would receive something more substantial than a pathetic sandwich, those stale pretzels or salty peanuts that just make you thirsty. Worse yet, your flight is early in the morning, and now your breakfast consists of coffee and peanuts on an empty stomach. You turn to vent to the poor flight attendant who doesn’t know how long she’ll have her job, and who you know doesn’t make the rules and say, “I paid $600 for this ticket. WHY DON’T YOU serve something more?” The flight attendant gives you a feeble answer about cost-cuts, and hands you another packet of peanuts.
Of course, you know that your ticket price includes more than the cost of your “snack.” Since the captain has yet to inform the passengers that they can begin using their electronic devices, you can’t help doing the math in your head: 15 peanuts at $600 a ticket comes to $40 a peanut.
Here’s something else that might irk you about the airlines: WHY DON’T they hire competent baggage handlers? Why do they send your bags to Alaska when you are going to Texas? And, when passengers check their baggage with them, the law states they must ask, “Has anyone unknown to you asked you to carry any item for them in your suitcase? (How would you KNOW about it if they were unknown to you?) Have your bags been in your possession since you packed them?” Think about it, if you have checked your bags at your hotel with the bell person and they put something in it, how would you know? And certainly you wouldn’t tell that to the agent because they might call security.
Here are a few more examples: WHY DON’T YOU include batteries in the packages of kid’s toys and electronics? WHY DON’T YOU make more lemon pies on Saturdays when you always seem to run out before 3:00 p.m. every week? WHY DON’T YOU have a phone system that offers callers an option to press “O” for the operator when someone calls your direct line? WHY DON’T YOU give INSTANT rebates at the cash register, instead of troubling busy people to fill out forms, attach receipts, place them into envelopes and mail them before being able to get their rebate? WHY DON’T YOU send a statement that’s simple to understand? I never know what I’m being charged? Why don’t you make sure the people at the front desk know how to direct people to your hotel? WHY DON’T YOU make sure your “zip” check-in is truly “zippy?”
I admit, many companies are making an effort to deliver better service, including the airlines. Too bad the airlines didn’t do better when business was thriving and they weren’t all about to file bankruptcy.
Just remember: Anytime you or someone in your company hears a customer say, “WHY DON’T YOU,” learn to recognize it as a strong signal that you need to LISTEN to the customer, then respond to a service problem or additional service a customer is seeking and take action.
You cannot afford to tune out the customer’s voice. You need to be proactive and feel a sense of urgency to correct any service problems that may exist. Remember who rules in today’s tough economy. Listening to your customer and taking action will keep you in the game and ensure a better future.