Lack of customer centricity

Blog, Friday 20 February 2015

The cus­tomer is always right. A clas­sic proverb that should reflect the impor­tance of cus­tomers to com­pa­nies. How­ev­er, in prac­tice this is not always the case; often the cus­tomer is seen as a court jester.

I shall never forget that one time when I was on holiday in Turkey. A German tourist was ridiculed by the local car rental company in front of other customers. Just because he informed about the damage cover on his newly rented car. The contract was signed, he shouldn’t complain and do not collide, as he was told. A toe-curling scene and probably the German tourist didn’t make a lot of mileage along the sunny coast of Turkey.

Royal behaviour
However, one rule is often forgotten by customers in their quest to be crowned king: they should behave royal. Increasingly I hear stories about customers who do not fulfill verbal agreements, drive retailers to despair by making unreasonable demands, using legal expenses insurance to cover their reckless buying behavior and so on. In that case the customer becomes a schemer, an uber-opportunist or just an unreliable party to do business with.

Customer centricity
But the opposite also happens. That Turkish car rental is only a modest exponent. Once customers do no longer consider themselves as a court jester but a prisoner of their supplier, your goose is cooked. Far away from customer centricity, and sales has become an empathy-free operation. Let me give an example. Suppose you subscribe to a business service. Halfway through the subscription year the service appears to be of no added value anymore, so you will no longer make use of it. How likely is it that the supplier is proactively prepared to end the contract? When his general terms and conditions also state that one should terminate 2 months in advance by registered letter (who does that nowadays?), while the service has been purchased digitally, an unusual situation arises. This could be an opportunity for the supplier to rise above the detail and end the customer relationship in dignity. Thus most likely resulting in a positive spin-off .

Crown a sincere customer king
Unfortunately, in real life, companies regularly act to the small print of the contract instead of the spirit. Consequently customer relationships are shortened, a customer refuses to do business with that supplier ever again and shares his negative experience on birthdays at least twelve times. The choice is yours, but be assured of one thing: when not making a sincere customer king, eventually he banishes you from his kingdom.

Brian de Mello

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