Don't let your success get in the way of your success

Posted by Keith Jolie on Friday, October 19, 2012 Under: Strategies
You’re successful - you’ve bootstrapped a company for 6 months and now you’ve secured investors.  You have a roadmap to profitability, you’ve designed the perfect business plan, you’ve got a great service, your delivery model is foolproof.

There’s only one problem: your customers are complaining; or worse..they aren’t buying or even worse...they're leaving.  They can't be right can they?  The customers must be doing something wrong... they didn't read the documentation... they didn't take the training, the sales rep obviously didn’t sell it correctly or they didn't get buy in from someone...

Too often, smart people that have enormous talent, and that have already set themselves ahead of the pack by accomplishing a great deal, let themselves down by letting their pride in the work they’ve done and their accomplishments make them blind to their customers’ realities.  Instead of looking for the cause for the concern and crafting meaningful solutions, this approach belittles the customer’s reality and blames them (not listening, not following instructions, taking the training etc...)

As soon as you take that approach to solving customer complaints and concerns you lose.   Businesses that fail to recognize that the customer's perspective is the most important metric will end up banging their heads against the wall over and over again trying to get their customers or possibly their sales team to solve a problem that is a direct result of their business model.

Over the last 20 years I’ve run into this situation on many occasions and based on the success vs failure ratio I've witnessed, the success of an organization is directly tied to the response that you give your clients when things don't go well.

There will always be situations when a client doesn’t do something you expected them to do (i.e. read the documentation) but if customers consistently experience the same challenge working with you, they will express their frustration to their colleagues, to their counterparts in other organizations and perhaps, if you’re lucky, to you.  So take it seriously and react quickly.  If you frequently have to customize your solution or if you consistently receive feedback from clients requesting a change in your process (either directly or inferred) - perhaps it’s time to change your process.  Someone once stated (and it’s one of my favourite expressions...) If you’re always having to think outside of the box...perhaps your box isn’t big enough.

My boss in my first job out of university drove the point home time and time again - “we always have to look at things from our customers point of view”.  That approach drove intense client loyalty, highly profitable business and blocked out competition.   If you haven’t already read it, I recommend the book Raving Fans.  The book is focused on “customer service” but the concept of really understanding what the customer needs and then delivering beyond expectations is at the heart of any truly successful product or service.

By Keith Jolie

In : Strategies 

Tags: "customer service" "business process" management customers sales "customer retention" 
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