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I Am Customer – Hear Me Roar

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Dear big and small companies,

Are your customers really important to you?  Do you place a high value on resolving their issues that might arise with your products or services?  Or has problem resolution become a metric-driven process that puts the customer last and cost reduction (or so you thought) first?

I recently encountered an issue between two financial institutions that involved a fairly large amount of money.  My money.  So I was invested in seeking a resolution.  Very invested.

My quest for resolution involved several departments and modes of communication.  At one point or another, I was talking to folks in centralized customer service, online bill pay, social care, member services, credit card services, the local branch, and a research team.  I talked to front-line reps, their supervisors, people in all different time zones – email, web messages, phone calls, conference calls, Facebook, faxing, etc.

There was a tremendous amount of finger-pointing, transfers of phone calls, starting (or feeling like we were) at square one, opening and closing and re-opening of cases.  All of this translated into a tremendous amount of time and wasted expense for these companies.  And a tremendous amount of frustration for me with a vow to search for new financial services providers.

Many businesses have really lost sight of the dramatic cost of rework and the cost of losing good customers in their pursuit of cost-effective processes.  This reflection takes me to the heart and soul of Six Sigma.  Mathematically, it’s experiencing only 3.4 defects per 1,000,000 opportunities.  And at its very core, those defects are defined BY the customer, not by an efficiency engineer.

Whether we’re talking about improving processes or designing new ones, Six Sigma looks at what will DELIGHT the customer.  Not merely satisfy them, not what will barely make the grade, but what will positively delight them.  So in my case, it’s dealing with one person at each company to solve my problem.  One person who cares passionately about my business and wants to see my problem resolved – who will work on my behalf to do this as quickly and efficiently as possible.  One person who gives me accurate and timely information.  One person who owns it and seeks to delight rather than pass the buck or hope I’ll quietly go away.

Does your business have a culture of delighting your customers?  Or is there some work to do?  Because your customers will roar – with their voices, their checkbooks, or the sound of their feet walking away.



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