Tuesday, May 02, 2006

If a Customer Screams bloody Murder, will anyone be there to hear it?

The answer to that Question: If a Customer Screams Bloody Murder, will anyone be there to hear it?

Is one that I am not convinced in today's corporate culture has a positive answer for the Customer, and that is the purpose of my post. Okay, yes, it's true, you few, you far between, you guys & gals that are actually reading this post, I mean YOU! You should feel privileged, because instead of spending my night updating our Founder's blog, I decided to heck with it, and I'll actually post one of my own (just kidding, it is I who feel privileged that you are taking time to read my blog). Why so motivated do you ask? Well, several things I have run into recently have just gotten my individual temperature up to a boiling point and today was the "piece d' resistance", so to speak.

I found myself on a Webinar call/Internet Mtg. today, sponsored by Citrix Online [those great guys & gals that run Gotomeeting's conferencing, which I do love, since they seem to be the easiest to actual use from an attendee's perspective, trust me, I know some rather non-tech geared people, whose names shall remain unmentioned as I like breathing steadily and without the assistance of hospital machinery), so I've got the "in-the-know" about these things]titled, "Practical Product Management", now considering I get a million and one e-mails a day, for some reason when I saw this title, I apparently thought it a good idea to attend and see if I could glean some gems of insight, boy was I wrong! There certainly wasn't anything "practical" about the advise.

Once again, I was shocked by the surety that people take in their stance, which is so incredibly WRONG! (when you apply even the smallest amount of Customer Care common sense). The person that ran this "webinar" has made her money and her living at advising company's on how to correctly manage their product launches, etc. To be honest, I had half my attention in the webinar phone conference call and web slides and the other half in searching for VC funding online. As the call progressed, I finally got to the point where I stopped my research and gave this person my undivided attention (lack of attendee attention on a Webinar is another topic for another day, but one which I am sure runs rampant on calls where the listeners are mitigated to the "everyone is on mute" and "submit your questions, we'll attempt to address them at the end or later". QUESTION: If I can not participate in a call and have my questions answered, What is the point? Aren't I just wasting my time and wouldn't it be more prudent if I just listened to a tape or MP3 or pod cast or whatever, when convened to MY schedule, versus a set date and time when the silly thing is being "live" broadcast?

But, again, more on that subject later). So, back to the subject of what I found so offensive on the Webinar and else where.

Once again there was someone who sits there comfortable in his/her position and advises Company's that the proper method of selling to Customers is to take Customers entirely out of the equation. This person in particular, had the view that Product Management should originate from the Product Manager and work it's life cycle out to Sales and the Customer. You know I wouldn't have so many problems with that theory, if there was some sort of checks and balances put into place that ensure that the voice of the Customer isn't falling on deaf ears. It amazes me how anyone that has been in the business world and can think that anyone other than the Customer can drive a product or Company?

It is something I see time and time again, someone in "Management" or on the "Executive Team" makes a blanket decision that directly effects the Customer (and in turn Sales), but lacking one consideration, the CUSTOMER! You know, those individuals who purchase your products and therefore are the reason for your entire Company's existence!

When will Companies listen to the fundamentals? That their Customers are the key, they are what matters most, and it is when that valuable lesson is forgotten, that all things internal, that Sales/Revenue suffers and comes together until the entire structure collapses, imploding upon itself!? I am so relieved to be working with a Company (at least one once it gets funding) and people who VALUE the CUSTOMER, who hold the same beliefs I do, that the Customer should be the motivation for all that you do, be it back office applications, direct marketing campaigns, product design and sales, even Sales Meetings should focus on the Customer, at least, from a Sales perspective, determining what you, as a Company, are doing right and where you are lacking and can improve your processes and whatever else it takes to "do the right thing" for the Customer.

I hope as you go forward in your life, in your careers, that you will remember one thing....The Customer. Be it you who is the Customer and you here on out decide to stick up for your rights as a consumer or Be it you who is the executive or decision maker and that you remember to always try to do your utmost to better serve the Customer and treat them as what they are, a precious commodity, which can easily be lost when you do not focus your attention or efforts towards their overall satisfaction. Don't get me wrong, I realize you can not please everyone all of the time, but, at the same time, I am of the philosophy that you can at least make the Customer feel as though you are doing your utmost to please them, that you are doing whatever it takes within your power, be you a front desk clerk, you work in the shipping department, you are part of the warehouse staff or the CEO & President of a Company, it is everyone within an organization that makes a Company either great or fail.

It is the ability to influence and satisfy a need from a consumer from large corporation to individual buyer, that is the "proof in the pudding" so to speak, which will make or break a Company. Far too often I see Companies forget, once again, the "Basics", which can be summed up as:

3. ACCEPT ACCOUNTABILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS both as an organization and as an individual and as long as serving your customer is the motivation and it is done ethically, then you can not go wrong.
4. WORK TO BETTER SERVE THE CUSTOMER, do your best to exceed their expectations and they will be with you in the good times and the bad, when you succeed and even on those occasions (because if you are realistic you will realize they do happen, regardless of what you do to avoid them) when you may fail.
5. REMEMBER, THE CUSTOMER, THE CUSTOMER, THE CUSTOMER!!! I don't care what department you work in or what responsibilities you may have, if you focus on how best to serve (and I'm not talking about making decisions on the fly, I'm talking about asking your customers and responding to their desires and needs) your customers, you will walk away with the satisfaction that you have done your best, a clear conscious that you did the "right thing" and more often than not, you will walk away with a loyal and happy (i.e. satisfied) Customer.

Best wishes,



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