Get Close To Your Customers
Is your organization set up to communicate effectively without barriers between ranks and absent of any punishment to the messenger?
Recently I was in the offices of Panasonic North America in Secaucus, NJ. While waiting for my appointment, I picked up a courtesy copy of Francis McInerney's book, "Panasonic--The Largest Corporate Restructuring in History."
McInerney's book isn't just about the message, "Get Close To Your Customers," as it offers sobering advice that still resonates into today's shipwrecked global economy. One factoid that caught my attention is that, "The average US corporation loses half its customers every five years." McInerney goes on to state that, "60 to 80 percent of those lost customers report that they are satisfied or very satisfied just prior to defecting."
As I stated earlier, McInerney's messages are sobering.
In past posts about UC and call centers, I've mentioned that reducing internal and external barriers to communications before implementing UC is mandatory in many US companies. In the recommendations to Matsushita (Panasonic's original name), they are listed as two key recommendations.
Then other recommendations from McInerney included;
* Build a customer care network
* Reform call centers to drive information directly from customers into Matsushita's design and manufacturing centers worldwide in real time
* Use call centers to talk to customers after they have bought products to see how they like products, get feedback and drive product and process improvement
Getting close to customers resonates with me and not just as a SMB owner. I've been witnessing first-hand examples of companies reaching out to customers. After I checked in at a Hilton, the room phone rang and the front desk clerk wanted to know if everything was as expected. Note, they didn't wait until after checkout and this indicates Hilton wants to be proactive with their guests. While having a dinner at a local seafood restaurant, the elderly owner approached our table and wanted to know if everything was acceptable. It was as it had been in the past years of our visiting and it's no mystery that this restaurant is in its 32nd year of business.
In the past, I've heard cynical reviews and comments about UC and how or whether it should be deployed. The same is true for social media, only it's often blatant and characterized as having little value to organizations. Then, some corporations are still under utilizing call centers and only think of them as cost centers.
Again, the technologies--UC, social media, call centers--can offer a high intrinsic value that companies may find they cannot afford to avoid investing in. But before you do, is your firm ready and able to streamline the process or improve the products in real time? Is your organization set up to communicate effectively without barriers between ranks and absent of any punishment to the messenger? If any of the answers are no, then you may find your organization at a huge disadvantage. "Real-time communications" carries huge implications for firms that don't know how to deal with customers in a real-time era.