The philosophy of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the ideal standard of behavior for almost every culture and religion. But I think there is another reason for calling it “The Golden Rule.” Assuring a positive customer experience by treating people fairly and with respect is also a core tenant of all successful businesses. Just ask Sam Walton, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates. All of them built their companies following this guideline and have the ROI to prove it.
Recently a friend of mine named Nancy told me about her not-so-golden interaction with a staffing agency that got me thinking about how businesses generally can enhance the customer experience they offer. Using her story as an example, here are three insights that I think might help us all:
Insight #1: Know who you’re talking to and what you’re selling.
Nancy, a veteran art director, has been freelancing for several years through a well-known temp agency. After spending 18 months getting work on her own, she contacted them again about possible assignments. They suggested that she come in to update her file and meet a new agent who would be her liaison within the organization. In preparation for the meeting, Nancy revamped her Web site to highlight her special expertise in five different areas and redid her hard copy portfolio.
After the opening handshake, the recruiter asked Nancy about her work as a production artist – a profession she’s never followed. From there on out the encounter went pretty much downhill. Keep in mind that over the years this agency has earned tens of thousands of dollars in fees through Nancy’s work for various clients. Granted, the person interviewing her was new, but she could have reviewed Nancy’s experience in the company’s files, looked her up on LinkedIn or reviewed her website. She did none of these things. She didn’t even allow Nancy to show her portfolio or website during the interview. How can this person possibly serve her clients’ best interests, let alone Nancy’s, if she doesn’t know what her skill sets, experience and expertise are?
Insight #2: Treat your customers the way you want to be treated.
After the interview Nancy decided to call a recruiter in the agency whom she had known for several years. She didn’t want to get the new recruiter in trouble, but she did want to make sure that she was properly represented. Despite describing the situation to her old contact as objectively as possible, she ended up being put on the defensive and made to feel that she was being unreasonable. Instead of a having a conversation to resolve a clearly solvable situation, Nancy found herself in an argument that no one could win.
The key to dealing with unhappy customers is very simple: LISTEN. Then try to see the situation from their perspective before responding. Here’s the big surprise – being sympathetic to a customer’s position makes them want to return the favor. They aren’t seeking revenge. They just want an acknowledgement that their concerns and satisfaction are important to you. In this case, the agent added insult to injury, by promising to look into the matter and get back to Nancy but never did.
Insight #3: Customer complaints aren’t insults. They are revelations on how to do your job better.
Remember, if you provide a product or service and you don’t do it effectively, your brand will suffer. And, sooner or later, so will your bottom line. Knowing what you do well is important but learning ways to do it better is even more so. Happy customers don’t share that. Unhappy ones do. VALUE them! They are better – and a lot cheaper – than a focus group when you want to learn how to improve your business.
If you want to discuss ways Crux can help you apply “the Golden Rule” to improve the customer experience your business offers, give us a call. We’d love to help you – and your customers – in any way we can.