Why Don’t Businesses Treat The Customer As King?

Businesses need to adopt greater responsibility, writes management expert Debbie Nicol.

Customers are king and are always right and businesses couldn’t survive without them. Yes, we know all of that and recognise that it is true. So why is that that businesses still feel that customers ‘get in the way’ at times, and simply don’t fulfill their expectations?

The problem is that in many situations, there’s potential for one party being outnumbered or outweighed by the other or even being more outspoken. Imbalance reigns and hence exists a possibility that one can ‘get in the way’ of the other.

Take these cases for instance.

Complaints or Feedback

A complaint is an interaction where one party is sharing a negative and the other party must respond positively (preferably). Clearly there are different perspectives on the situation, different emotions and exposure to the incident itself and different measurement templates that each considers. Whether a positive or a negative is referred to, imbalance exists for both parties with separation reigning. There is no equality.

Questions

Questions are an opportunity for an interaction where one party has the information and the other does not. One wants what the other has, in this case knowledge, and with one question also comes a myriad levels of possible response – the ‘must know’, ‘should know’, ‘could know’ and ‘nice to know’. How much knowledge can and will be released in relation to how much enquirer wants or needs? Imbalance is a likelihood.

Service

The attendant often has work to do that is ‘all about service’ yet embedded into a life of administration e.g balance the books, do the stock report, answer the phone, complete the time sheets. The customer simply needs to be serviced. On the basis of time, priorities, pace and consistency, once again the distribution is inequitable, which separates.

Using the examples above, a dispute may get in the way of a solution, a lack of interest may get in the way of a complete answer whilst priorities and opinions may get in the way of facts.

However, if businesses adopt greater responsibility and share knowledge equally, they can forge togetherness and mutual partnerships. So, what would need to change?

Responsibility with Complaints and Feedback

Process the company complaint situation against a template of quality experience that will focus on milestones, the right questions and positive outcomes rather than a ‘he said, she said’ focus on content and situation.

Responsibility with Questions

Since customers are not an interruption to our work but rather the purpose of it, is there an opportunity to link this with recruitment? Are we prioritising persistence, support, sensitivity to feelings of others, high intuitive levels and team player characteristics for those recruited in face-to-face service roles?

Responsibility with Service

Systems could benefit from change. Rewarding should be based on a system that measures how quickly the customer is served and the level of content he has after the connection.

Perhaps it’s never going to be this simple, yet the other option of getting in each other’s way is hardly going to serve a harmonious customer-supplier relationship.

Debbie Nicol is the managing director of Dubai-based ‘business en motion’, and creator and author of the ‘embers of the world’ series.

Also read: How To Be A Great Leader