Why Should Your Customers Remain Customers?

Bobblehead DollMy wife is mad at me; I was relating an email survey experience where a financial institution had sent me a customer service survey.  I described the truth, I have no reason to remain a customer and feel less than enthused at remaining a customer.  My wife fearing I had been insulting, derogatory, or denigrating, got mad at me.  I explained my position and how I had answered the rote questions, and she is still not happy.  But, her position and my position bring up an interesting point, centered around the following question, “Why should a customer remain a customer?”

Use My Name!

Daily I receive programmed emails from multiple companies.  Do you know how I pick the ones I want to do business with?  They know my preferred name and use it!  What an incredible concept; since the early 1990s, we have had the technology to put in names, create mailing lists, and use people’s preferred names, and businesses still struggle with this concept.  Why?

LookI have several titles, want my business, know and use my titles.  Pick one, and use it!  How can a company claim they “know their customers” when that company cannot use the customer’s preferred name or title in addressing that customer?  I have worked hard to earn a Ph.D.; I do not expect everyone to call me “Dr.,” but it sure as anything beats being called “mister” all the bloody time.  Worse, I still hold several ranks and positions that come with titles. I could be addressed using them, but even with a preferred name on many company customer profiles, I get that lazy customer service representative that calls me Mr. Salisbury!  Guess what company I am going to ditch at the first opportunity?Shhh----Don--t-Say-A-Thing--Just-Listen--Don--t-Talk.jpg (500×273) | The beauty and danger of ...

On the topic of names, if I say, “everyone calls me Dave,” and you continue to call me “Michael,” “Mike,” or “Mr. Salisbury,” you are either not listening, or your company has the worst policies for addressing customers.  Guess what company I will end my business relationship with post-haste?  I have given permission to use a preferred name, use my name.  Listen to me!

Listen!

Job Interview Cartoons ~ Silly BuntActive listening can be faked!  Customer service agents, I know active listening can be manufactured, I have been a customer service agent, I know your stress, I know your job, and I know your problems.  Thus, to your bosses, I appeal; stop the active listening drama!  If you are not stressing reflective listening to your employees, where they and the customer reach a mutual understanding, you are not doing your job leading customer relations!

My wife claims that conclusion is “Too harsh.”  I disagree vociferously.  Here’s why!  Remember how I just related how I had informed customer service agents, “everyone calls me Dave,” and the agent continued to call me everything but my preferred name.  Failure to listen remains the number one customer complaint for a reason; the agents are not listening to reach a mutual understanding.  Too often, they are not even attempting to listen actively but are listening to respond, responding to the voices in their heads and not the customer!Joke of the Day | Joke of the day, Funny quotes, Single words

Do you want better customer survey responses; try listening, then acting, then listening again.  Not speaking; listening, acting, listening, acting; it’s a pattern worth doing!  Yet, too often, what is the pattern found, maybe listening, speaking, maybe listening, token action, maybe listening, half-hearted action.  Wait for the customer to become frustrated and go away.  Guess which company I am going to be ending my business relationship with quickly?

Respond!

AP 20.96 Short-Answer Questions (SAQ) - Bello's Reference Page - Use GOOGLE CLASSROOM for all ...I have four companies who I have informed (several times) I no longer can do business with them.  They continue to send me emails asking for my business for old properties and cars I no longer possess.  Listening is but half the answer; you must also respond with definitive action.  How many times does a customer have to relate to your business they have moved?  I did business with a windshield repair company in Phoenix, AZ.  Good company, good service, but for the next three years, I received calls from them monthly, and I had moved out of their service area.  They were told this month after month, I was promised month after month this was the final call, and month after month, I received another call.  Guess whose recommendation I deleted online?

People ProcessesBusiness processes matter; honoring your word matters, displaying trust, integrity, and fulfilling a promise made all matters in the customer relationship long before the product or service is discussed.  Yet, how often are these issues on shaky ground, before the ink is dry on the service contract or the receipt for goods?  I have a cell phone provider I detest; I long for the day I can finally walk free of this provider and never look back.  Because their customer attention is deplorable, I feel used and abused every time I interact with this company.  I have the same problem with my current Internet provider.  When your customer service is so deplorable, you have to climb to become terrible; there is a problem that colors, signage, marketing, and gimmicks cannot fix!

Why Would I gladly Pay a Higher Price; Service!

Skillet Mac and Cheese with Crispy Breadcrumbs Recipe - Southern LivingI was in the supermarket, my wife asked for a treat.  To her, a treat is a bowl of deli mac & cheese, potato salad, or a bag of potato chips.  As I was in the deli and they had her mac & cheese, I bought mac & cheese.  My wife was shocked, I paid, what to her was an exorbitant price for the mac & cheese, but I was glad to pay the price.  The counter worker wrapped the mac & cheese package in plastic wrap to protect it from spilling, was pleasant, remembered me from a previous visit, and made my day.  The service was well worth the extra cost.

I kept going back to this store, making purchases long after this deli person was transferred to another store closer to their home because the service level did not go down.  Thus, I remained satisfied to pay extra for the service I received.  Walking on a cane, with labored breathing, and having a service representative walk with me, not ahead of me, so I feel like I have to race, is a significant service I would gladly pay more for.  I felt respected and remembered from visit to visit, even if I was sporadic in visiting for over a month.2mm to Sales Mastery | Customer Obsession: Creating "Wow" Moments That Leave a Lasting Impression

Long before the product or service costs are discussed is the customer experience.  If the customer experience fails, you can have the coolest products and the best access to services and fail because you forget the customer experience!  Getting back to the financial survey I just completed, it was full of Likert-style scale questions.  If your company employs a Likert question on a survey, you need a follow-up self-directed qualitative question to explain directly after.

Likert-Style Surveys

Likert-style questions are a quantitative researcher’s bread and butter, showing the relationships between agreement and disagreement on a broad scale.  Generally, on a scale of 1-10, these questions and scales have come to be represented by emojis, colors, statements, and more as technology has advanced.Top 10 Likert Scale Examples for your next survey! | QuestionPro

I completed 15 Likert-styled questions before I was asked why I rated the company as “Neither liked or disliked, neither favorable nor unfavorable.”  Okay, so quantitative data is easier and less expensive to collect, collate, and report.  But, if your customer survey is only collecting qualitative or quantitative data, you are only collecting half the story and none of the customer experiences!  However, you cannot simply ask ½ the questions qualitative and ½ the questions quantitative and expect anything but GIGO.  Careful planning is key to customer survey results worth your time and the customers time!Likert scale questions, survey and examples | QuestionPro

A customer satisfaction survey should first be an instrument of dedicated action!  Where your best and brightest in customer relations work to analyze, report, and propose efforts to satisfy the customers.  They investigate survey findings.  They respond to survey questions and concerns, address real people, and produce tangible results.eCommerce Customer Surveys | An Ultimate Guide 2021

A customer satisfaction survey is not the time, nor the place, for cute emojis and colorful pictures depicting customer attitudes.  Can the customer survey be more than black and white; naturally.  Remember that the customer survey is not where you go to flash and spin; this is where the customer goes, tells the truth, and expects action, not to be played with.  If the customer takes the time to complete a survey, there is a reason, find the cause, know the customer, and win.

Knowledge Check!These are but three basics, fundamental points at the start of the customer relations journey.  If you cannot get these three points right, the rest of the trip will be short, painful, and not fulfilling for you or your customers.  Worse, the experiences will be remembered, and people have this nasty habit of not forgetting bad experiences.  Why do the majority of people despise the DMV; because the majority of customers have experienced the most frustrating issues of their professional lives at the hands of the DMV agents.  Governments abuse their customers, which is as bad as customer interactions get, and everyone feels betrayed when the government and bureaucrats use them.

You are in the private sector; you have competition; your first question daily should be, “Why should my customers remain, my customers?”  When you answer this question, your customers will hear the answer loud and clear!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Intention and Discernment – Tools Worth Knowing

Foghorn Leghorn - MedicationParents, how many times have you witnessed a toddler going about their day, an idea crosses their face, and you can tell they are about to do something that gets that toddler in trouble?  I heard a comedian talk about witnessing this as the toddler saw the cat sleeping in the sun, the toddler crossed the room and kicked the cat.  When asked why the toddler claims “it was accident.”

What is intention?

Intention is all about deliberate action, using a plan, and involving ideas in action.  According to Webster, intention is also the healing process of a wound, but this definition is not part of our discussion.  From Latin, we find intentio as “stretching purpose” and originates with intendere meaning “towards, stretch, and tend.”

Calvin & Hobbes - Irony HurtsConsider these definitions for a moment and the story about the toddler kicking the cat.  We have a plan, a purpose, and a deliberate action.  How does the parent discern the act was deliberate; the use of observation as to what the toddler had done to the cat previously, what the toddler was doing immediately before they kicked the cat, and the attempt to use an excuse to get out of trouble.

Discerning Intention.

Never Give Up!When defining discernment, I am not entering holy waters to discuss the pieces of discernment that belong to discerning for religions.  Discernment is the ability to obtain sharp perceptions, observations that empower decision-making.  Discernment can be psychological, moral, or aesthetic.  Discernment is also defined through the contexts; scientific, normative, and formal. The process of discernment involves going past the mere perception of something and making nuanced understandings about its properties or qualities.

Note, there is also a legal definition, or standard, for discernment, “the cognitive condition of someone who understands; savvy, understanding, apprehension knowing about their actions before, after, and during the act;” which is where things get sticky when discernment and intention cross paths.  Hannity and Carlson disagree on the actions of the jury in the Derek Chauvin case.  Not being a lawyer and not knowing all the legal jargon, the best I can do is form an opinion.  I base my opinion on other high-profile cases where the media has condemned an individual as guilty before the judge and jury are formed.  Meaning, I feel the jury was intentionally and unfairly biased against Derek Chauvin due to the influence of the media and the mob outside the courtroom’s doors.Thin Blue Line

There was a shooting of a teenage girl in Columbus, Ohio, by a police officer.  The girl had a knife in hand, did not listen to the police officer responding, and lunged at another person before being shot.  Again, we come to discerning intention and split-second decision-making.  Only, in this instance, the officer has no history of the person holding a knife, only reports of a stabbing and an apparent altercation involving a knife when they arrive on the scene.  I offer no judgment in this case as this case continues to unfold, details are still being investigated, and family interviewed.  Yet, the media is already off and running their biased opinions, and mobs have formed for mobocratic justice, which is never just nor proper.

Calvin & Hobbes - Ontological QuandryUnfortunately, this pattern repeats too often, and thus the need to understand discernment and correctly discerning intention.  My intent is not to make you as adept at this practice as a police officer. In a Republic, and even in many democratic societies, the citizens need to discern and discern intention, two separate processes.  The media will sell a lurid and emotionally charged story with all the bias of a bull in a China Shop and never care about the consequences.  But, the citizen does not have the same luxury or legal protections as the media.  Hence, we must discern what the media relates and discern the media’s intention before we ever read or listen to their story/reporting of events.  Thus my intent in this article and bringing up this topic, we, the citizens, are held to a higher law than the media and cannot afford to form mobs, trust the media’s reporting, or even rely upon the press reported “facts” to discern and discern intent.

How do you make a decision requiring action?

GearsThe process for critical thinking, leading to intentional decision-making, with purposeful action, generally follows the following pattern:

      1. Gather data
        • Requires knowing the validity of the source data and trusting the sources.
      2. Organize the data
      3. Make preliminary decisions and determine an action to take.
      4. Beta test the decision through application to a minimal audience to refine the solution and ensure the integrity of the data.
      5. Roll out the entire decision, including the solution and the reasoning, take timely action.
      6. Monitor and make course corrections as needed.

Detective 4These steps are useless unless we understand our own intention before launching a decision-making process.  Consider, do you intentionally believe that others are doing their best or giving their best efforts?  Do you intentionally shut down your own opinion to consider the perceptions of others in making decisions?  Where in those steps do you stop and take a moment to ponder the short and long-term consequences of the solution devised?  When making decisions, do you ever consider the axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses?”  Do we fear failing to make a correct decision if the future teaches us something new about the data changing the pattern of decision-making?  How do you learn?

Let us briefly examine that axiom, “If a solution is not Win/Win, everyone loses,” does not mean making everyone happy.  A good compromise leaves everyone upset and feeling cheated and settled on the issue under consideration.  Yet, the media and many politicians firmly believe that unless they win everything they desire in a solution, they have been robbed and feel justified in stirring up public angst and creating a worse problem.  The adults in society must understand both the good and the ill in creating Win/Win solutions, or all is lost, and the patients run the asylum.

Anton Ego 4In going back to the analogy of the toddler kicking the cat.  Does the solution in the short-term mean corrective behavior modification for a long-term lesson learned?  Does the better solution involve instruction as well as behavior modification?  Have we, the parents, discerned correctly the intention of the toddler sufficient to justify our decision?  Will the cat be safe around the toddler in the future because of the action we take at that moment?

How do you learn?

In answering this question, we must return to the topic of failure.  Do we consider failure a learning moment?   Do we appreciate the power of failing as integral to achieving success?  A close relative of mine in high school went out for the track team as a pole vaulter.  I looked into pole vaulting to learn more and was surprised at the ways, means, and multiple times the pole vaulter will fail.  The technical skills to pole vault are incredible, almost as unbelievable as being an operations manager in a manufacturing environment and being a parent.  Hence, the need for discernment and intention.

2012-08-13 07.37.28I close with a challenge, use discernment more intentionally in learning your way through failure to success.  Liberty and freedom allow us the power to fail our way to success, but only if we consciously choose to learn and discern better our steps in decision-making.  Know your intent, take a moment every day to consider your intent, and purposefully make decisions to live your intentions.  Trust yourself to discern.  Your confidence in discerning is key to understanding and using your intention to power decision-making as a process.  Please remember, what I am discussing requires time, you will fail, but you will also win and win BIG!  Enjoy the journey of discovery!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.