ELEVATING TO THE NEXT LEVEL
You cannot begin to imagine the sight I saw a few months ago, when I went to transact business in a service establishment. I had gone to straighten outstanding issues I’d been talking about to my relationship managers telephonically and by email, which had not been resolved.
After concluding my transaction, on the second floor, as I descended the stairs and approached the hall where the generality of customers were attended to, I heard commotion coming from one direction of the hall. A man had stripped naked! It was a sight to behold. I had never seen a thing like that in my life! A grown man naked in all of his glory. The women did not know where to look and were all looking away in embarrassment and so was yours truly.
We were all in askance and I am sure everybody felt violated, because I did too. We all started berating the man, “why have you removed all of your clothes? Are you not ashamed? What can possibly warrant this disgraceful behaviour?” Despite the commotion and the angst he was causing, he worsened the situation by sitting down naked. The questions continued as everybody wanted to understand why he had to resort to this extreme behavior.
He reeled out a long tale of woe. His pain was that his money had been stuck in the establishment despite several visits and communication with the organisation to no avail. He felt he had no alternative but to strongly express his disappointment and give them a show down. Luckily for us, the security guards came and bundled him out. We all heaved a sigh of relief and shared our own challenges with the organisation. Many of us sympathised with the naked man. We could all relate with him and understood the frustration he must have felt.
The incident left an indelible mark that I am sure I will never forget. Can you begin to imagine the man’s challenges with this organisation that made him lose all sense of decorum and resort to stripping naked in public? He was driven crazy by the string of broken promises he had endured without tangible results.
An organisation currently driving people crazy is a popular domestic airline. They continually break their promises to their customers every day. We have all been shattered by their irresponsible and appalling service. They’ve lost all empathy for their customers and do not care about their brand and how inconveniencing their services have become. Many of us have had to travel with the first flight, irrespective of when our meetings were, because we did not want to miss important appointments.
People are also often left stranded at the airport and flights cancelled or unnecessarily delayed for hours, sometimes very late into the night. I learnt the other day that some passengers lined up on the tarmac to stop a flight from leaving without them, because they had been waiting for two days without being air lifted. They more or less “hijacked” the plane just to get the service they were entitled to. How harrowing that experience must have been for them.
Many of us have suffered from broken promises from various establishments; where we pay for services or products that are subpar. Why do some organisations do this? Once they think they have gotten your custom, they start to behave very badly. When a friend of mine narrated his experience on the airline I mentioned earlier, I told him the only reason the airline has continued to behave in the manner they are known for, is because they still have demand for their services, and if there is demand, why change? Until Nigerians stop using them and move to competition, they will not change.
Unfortunately organisations like this airline, are killing themselves and may soon become extinct. Historically, organisations that provide poor services and think that their customers do not matter, may be because they enjoy a monopoly at the time, are usually left in the cold once an alternative comes into the markets. Most of the new entrants get a foothold into the market by cleaning up the mess of the organisation they are displacing. Breaking your promises to your customers has dire consequences for your business and should be avoided at all cost.
Thomson Dawson said: “If companies don’t deliver on their promises, it will have far reaching consequences. Promises matter to people. If organisations don’t deliver what they promise, in time, you won’t matter to them. More importantly in our social media crazed world, vetting out broken promises made to customers has instant ramifications to the credibility and trajectory of your brand’s perceived value.”
To continue to remain valuable in the eyes of your customers you need to ensure that your front line representatives keep your organisations promises in their interactions with customers in-person, on the telephone, electronically or through social media as well as ensure your brand’s promises are fulfilled using feedback from customers.
Accenture conducted a survey on broken promises and found that organisations that keep their promises, “promise keepers” held a variety of trump cards starting with enhancing their brand image. These promise keepers are likely to retain their customers and capture new ones, achieve lower cost, cultivate good public relations and their customers will likely be high value ambassadors for the company’s products and services.
How can you become a promise keeper?
– Reinforce your processes, human customer services and implement the enabling technology
– Empower friendly knowledgeable customer service representatives with the processes to resolve customer issues promptly and use appropriate offers to salvage broken relationships.
– Leverage technology to meet customers’ expectations across multiple channels.
– Listen to your customers and take action when a service breakdown occurs
– Use analytics to understand underlying customer issues and intentions in order to solve underlying problems.
Many organisations know that it is a buyers’ market and some also know that customers are no longer following organisations blindly. Yet, many organisations are not keeping their promises to their customers. Delivering and keeping your brand’s promise is the only way to ensure that your customers keep faith in you.
– Marie-Therese Phido is Sales & Market Strategist and Business Coach
tweeter handle @osat2012; TeL: 08090158156 (text only)