Those Pesky Customers by Emily R. Coleman, Ph.D

We all know them:

  • Those unreasonable people who don’t understand business efficiencies and want to talk to a live representative.  And worse, a live representative who actually can speak their language.
  • Those people who don’t grasp the concept of “try, try again,” and immediately call for technical support or complain about the product.
  • Those delusional types who think executives have nothing better to do with their day than solve customer problems.

Doing business would be so much easier if we didn’t have to deal with customers.

Okay, okay.  This is obviously an exaggeration.  Unfortunately, however, not by that much.  Even today, with a down economy, with a rapacious competitive environment, and with buyers who can go elsewhere, customers are seen as a group to be measured and managed.

I recently read a fun article on the subject by Greg Harris.

His position is that “the customer’s voice can serve as a company’s guiding light and everyone on [our] management team makes talking to customers a high priority.”

I’m all for “customer engagement” and matrices to measure it.  I’m all for customer satisfaction studies so you can see where problems lie.  I’m all for “this call may be monitored” to see how employees handle customers.

But mostly I’m for the fact that marketing is about communicating with customers, users, and prospects.  And the best way to do that is to talk to them – and with them – and get to know what actually makes them tick (as opposed to what we think makes them tick).

Therefore, allow me to propose something revolutionary:

Let’s put aside our assigned roles, our job-defined turfs, and our egos.  Let’s agree that no one can claim to be a marketing professional without spending a portion of our day – or our week, or our month – without actually talking to real customers, users, and prospects.  Let’s go out on real-world sales calls.  Let’s spend some time taking the calls customer support reps routinely handle.

Let’s get beyond the numbers.

Keep the matrices.  Keep the market research.  Keep the technologies that, hopefully, make us more efficient.  But as we create our strategies, our tactics, our messages, wouldn’t it be useful to have some personal, gut-level, insight into the people we are trying to reach?

About Emily R. Coleman

Dr. Emily R. Coleman is President of Competitive Advantage Marketing Inc, a marketing firm that specializes in taking small, medium, and large companies to the next level by helping them develop and deepen their competitive edge in the marketplace. Dr. Coleman has more than 30 years of hands-on executive management experience working with companies, from Fortune 100 firms to entrepreneurial enterprises. Dr. Coleman’s expertise extends from the integration of corporate-wide marketing communications to the development and implementation of strategy into product development and branding. Dr. Coleman can be reached at    At LinkedIn:  On Facebook:  At Twitter:


Raising the Bar on Customer Satisfaction

In today’s increasingly competitive marketplace, simple customer satisfaction is not enough. Why? Here’s the all important answer: satisfied customers don’t necessarily give you a bigger share of wallet.

It’s Time for a Higher Standard

Avoid the satisfaction trap by raising the bar with an aggressive standard for a customer’s overall experience with your organization. It’s called Customer Delight. And there is a clear cut way to define it.

When a customer gives your company a 9 or 10 on a 10 point satisfaction scale – Top 2 Box – you know you have a delighted customer who has a high opinion not just of a particular product or channel, but of the entire organization.

Why is it so important? Research I conducted while at a major financial institution indicated that a Delighted Customer was three times more likely to purchase more products and four times more likely to make a favorable recommendation as customers who gave you a satisfied score of 6, 7, or 8. So if you increase Customer Delight, you will significantly improve your prospects for long term growth.

Better Business Results is the Ultimate Goal

Everyone is always looking at ways to analyze and evaluate the bottom line impact of increased customer satisfaction. But at a gut level, it simply makes sense. If you’re truly delighted with a company’s products, services, and customer service, you’re probably going to give them more business – right?

Certainly, that’s the way it works for me. If I’m really happy with a customer’s product or service and if I feel they have treated me in an exceptional way, I keep coming back for more. In fact, I often stop looking at competitive offerings and minor price differences.

When I’m merely satisfied with a company’s performance, however, I’m ready to jump ship whenever there is a better offer.

Increasing Customer Delight Should be a Top Goal

Bottom line? Delighted customers become outstanding prospects for cross-selling – which sets the stage for revenue growth.

Delighted customers also generate favorable word of mouth advertising, which helps attract new customers without adding a cent to the advertising budget.

Customer delight is important to your future – merely satisfying customers is ultimately a “going out of business” strategy.

Read “A High-powered Organic Growth Strategy Pays Off for One of the Largest Banks in the Nation” to see the results

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