Have you taken the time to take a fresh look at how your customer sees your business? When we look at our own business too often, we start to see what we expect, and not what is really there.
There is a place in my local food court that sells freshly made food. The area where they prepare their food is spotless, but this front facing part of their bench – the customer facing part – is home to a dozen dust bunnies sitting around the back (as they see it) of their machine. You can see that they have not stood where their customer stands and seen their business from their perspective in a very long time. The second issue is, there is obviously no one assigned to ensure the business is presented well. The chef is responsible for a clean workstation, the service person is responsible for a clean counter at the point of sale and that part of the counter. But to both these parties, ‘behind the coffee machine’ is on the peripherals of both these areas, and the responsibility of no one.
But are we all guilty of this? We ‘branders’ love to harp on about our brand touchpoints. That is, those places in our business where our customer interacts with us, be it the phone, our reception or even (especially) our retail space. Brand representatives vie for prime position on supermarket shelves, and it’s a science as to how the customer engages with the products to lure us into more purchases. For example, supermarkets make us walk through the whole store in order to grab the basics of bread and milk. Is it time we took a leaf out of their book?
Mind the gap
A little less obvious though, is when a customer needs to interact with different departments as part of one transaction. Say you purchase a printer; you deal with the sales person. You then might talk to the finance department to arrange payment. Then you are passed off (usually as a matter of default) to the technician, who delivers and installs the printer. Then, if something goes wrong, you talk to the support team. This may seem quite self-explanatory but because as a business we treat these systems as a combination of individual ‘teams’ we don’t really think of the customer’s entire experience with the company as a whole, and they can often fall into the void that is the gap that forms when moving from one department to another.
If your company doesn’t have one person that is the key point of contact for a customer at every interaction (and even if you do) I challenge you to step into your customer’s shoes and see what happens when you interact with your business – or even better, recruit a friend who doesn’t know your business to pretend to go through the entire sales to customer to support process and see how they fare.