This is starting to become one of my major gripes! I know a blog should not be about letting off steam but I am sure I am not the only marketer working in a SME that has the same frustration. This feeling has led me to ask the question again, what is more important…making sure that your customer has a genuinely good experience or ticking a box to say that you have followed a process deemed to be “best practice” in offering good customer service?
I think we all know the answer in theory but in practice it is harder to get that point across to your team and suppliers.
In the dealership world we navigate the intricacies of working with car manufacturers whose marketeers, working in far flung locations, come up with up with grand schemes to improve sales and customer service. Now I am sure that there are some very bright and enthusiastic people working in these offices, but how much do they understand the day to day customer interaction in dealerships ? In my experience not much.
The latest obsession is what they call their “CSI programs” I can not remember what the “I” stands for but it is something to do with customer satisfaction and boy do they know how to make it complicated. Dealers are set targets to achieve and as usual there is a, not insignificant, financial incentive to wet the appetites of Dealer Principals. But in reality they also require a great deal of resource and, as one of our Managers commented last week, the financial incentives available may just about cover the cost of employing someone to satisfy the requirements of the CSI programme.
It is not that I have a problem with asking customers if they had a good experience, far from it. We all know how important it is to check that they are happy with the service they got and whether they thought it was good value for money. Any business worth its salt will already be doing that by developing ongoing relationships with customers through open dialogue and transparency. Is it really better to send them an email with a bunch of questions that they have already been primed to answer in a certain way by a Customer Adviser, just to meet the Manufacturers targets?
I think we have to accept that asking customers continually for their feedback might not in itself be conducive to a great customer experience. As consumers we are asked every 10 seconds for our feedback on this and that…buy a car……..”tell me about your experience”, buy a tin of beans….. “how did it make you feel?” Order a product online ……get a 10 page questionnaire on your lifestyle and what you like to do at weekend.
So when I get a letter that starts with:
“Customers tell us that the follow-up call received after they have visited your service department, is the icing on the cake.”
I really want to just groan and lock myself in a darkened room for the rest of the year!