Posted on Posted in Customer Relationship Management

What ? You must be joking… I am sure these are the first thoughts which come into your head. Let me try to tell you why I think that – at least in spirit.

Most companies today spend a lot of money and time in trying to acquire new customers.Huge focus and spends on marketing , advertising , creating a brand impact etc etc. Don’t you always get the feeling that you are treated as king till you make a purchase , once you buy it – story over. You just become a sales figure after that – your identity as a customer vanishes…

Everyone knows you need to take care of existing customers , building customer loyalty will bring more customers etc etc.. That is not the objective of this article – that’s a given and obvious –  most companies know that…

I am trying to highlight a different perspective  – do we consider managing the expectations of a customer as a cost or a revenue stream and do we spend time and money to improve the quality of this interaction.This is the big question.

There are numerous  aspects to this angle and in this article I would like to highlight one element which I call – Customer Connect Points. Meaning -look at the entire life cycle of your product or service and wherever you see a customer connect happening – invest in the best people and technology  – even it means you need to double your spending budget.

Let me point out an irony –  I am sure we get numerous calls for new credit cards , add on cards , new cell phone connections where the person on the other side is pleading for your time , literally begging you to hear him/her for 2 mins before you hang up the phone.They are thrilled if you listen to them for 2 mins irrespective of whether you buy or no. True ?

What happens when you have a problem and you call customer service ? Its exactly the opposite .Picture this – – here we have a customer who is calling the service provider with a particular issue , customer is all ears and he is ready to wait for 5/10/15 or whatever mins to get to speak to someone. After the unncessary IVR options ,  as soon as the customers gets someone online – the person will sound like a machine who will start with a script which he/she has to repeat no matter what the customer is asking for and his/her goal is to finish the conversation as soon as possible.

Don’t you find it strange. We spend millions to get attention of a future/potential customer – but when our existing customers call to talk to us we ignore.How ridiculous is that ?

Customer Connect points which breeds customer engagement need to be looked at completely differently then the other functions in an organisation.There needs to be a major and I mean really major shift in focus from acquiring new customers to improving the average spend from the current customers or frequency of buying and it will have a larger impact on their sustainability and future. So here’s what I am suggesting

Treat Customer Engagement as a Revenue Generation Arm –  We need to stop paying peanuts and assume that the staff  will somehow learn.Customer engagement budget needs to be re-looked. Every customer engagement is a moment of truth – its going to leave a taste.Hire the best /smartest/most energetic staff in every customer connect point – if hiring is a challenge then Train them to be the world’s best.It could be the personnel in a shop , customer service on the phone , the guy delivering food/groceries at your door step , the person delivering package from your online store or even the front desk staff at the reception – who is literally the face of the business.

If you don’t , the negative experience that the customer is having with these individuals will slowly kill brand loyalty then they will switch as soon as there is a window- its a matter of time.

I think the companies have got it wrong because they pay people based on the skills they have and not the role they play or value they bring in – In this case the value of that customer interaction or engagement is precious – worth the weight in gold!

Shaju Nair

Speaker & Writer.

Customer Relationship Management

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