Business Growth: Complexity & Mixed Messages in Customer Service

Don Mick wrote of a recent automotive service experience…  one with which many might empathize.

In his post, he writes of being alternately blessed (with affirmations and appreciation of his status as a customer of the auto dealership) and cursed (with negative and diminishing encounters that communicate that–as a customer–he’s a bother and an inconvenience)–all within the same customer service transaction.  As a business leader, please consider the following observations:

  1. How challenging is it, for even energetic and well-intentioned leaders to get all of the parts of an organization (and the people working within the organization) on the same page/ engaging with customers in a consistent and synchronous fashion?
  2. How confusing and anxiety-provoking is this experience for the customer, a “whipsaw” effect? I hazard that the absence of consistent and clear communication regarding a customer’s status, is in fact an overall strong negative/ “dissatisfier”, with regard to how that customer feels about the dealership/ service provider;
  3. How little of this story is really about immediate “competence”. Most of Don’s story is really about empathy (or the lack thereof), the ripple effects of poor quality (first, in the product; then, in the service-event that attempted to fix the product), and the missing “end-to-end view” of the customer transaction and the “special” customer, by the dealership service team, and by a single dealership “owner.”

Simply proclaiming customers as “special” and providing them with “bling” does not make them so.  Even if service providers proclaim it (but don’t act consistently with the proclamation) customers sure won’t believe it.

Only when an organization actually organizes its work with the customer (and the customer’s experience) at the center, as a top priority–and changes “business as usual”–will consistent messages, and unqualifiedly happy customers, emerge from the front doors.

As a business leader/ manager:  What is YOUR “teaching story” of a specific moment of customer engagement–and what did you observe/ learn from it, both about yourself as a customer–and/ or about the perspective of the service provider?