100 millions dollars advice: treat your clients as people.

Face to face.

Layers and layers…

I have started this article motivated by very frustrating interactions with companies I had lately. What frustrates me more is their lack of common sense. Their complete lack of customer service…besides spending much money on it.

As a company you need to know your clients, be clear about their needs, their motivations, their goals. To know something you need to be close, listen, understand, be on their shoes.

So remove those layers and layers of call centers, emails, PO boxes and web forms.

You don’t need to spend millions of dollars on fancy IA bots. You just need people who listen and care. Real people I mean. People who can decide on customer’s issues and suggestions.

How to frustrate people

King’s Cross station

King’s cross stations is one of the main train stations managed by the UK Network Rail. They manage the infrastructure (rail tracks, signalling, bridges, tunnels, level crossings and many key stations) on the UK private train system, while companies run train services.

Let’s suppose you, as a user and customer, have a suggestion. Suppose you have noticed something that can improve everybody’s journeys and want to share it.

You head to their web page… to find a contact form made of 22 fields and the need to create an account. Starting to feel the wall they are building between you and them, you go to the station…but no customer care office there. So look for a manager on duty, approach him and:

  • you: morning sir, I use this station every day and noticed that…
  • manager (interrupting): what is your problem?
  • you: no problem sir, just I have a suggestion: if you let people go through those gates there, the platform would empty faster and we wouldn’t need to be waiting as we are now, all packed against the 4 gates you have enabled.
  • manager: did you pay your journey?
  • you: of course, anyway has nothing to do with my suggestion.
  • manager (raising his voice): if you don’t like it use another gate

turns around and leaves you talking alone.

HSBC

A big bank, a big name, lots of money spent on customer care. One big problem: they don’t solve your problems.

If you go to a branch, because you have an issue, they don’t try to understand it and solve it. They ask you to book a meeting, to go back to the same branch (hopefully a month later) and see if they can solve it.

You better send them an email. Then you get a copy and paste answer, with a standard “thank you for contacting us”, with no solution to your problem.

Their focus is on avoiding responsibility, never on solving your problems, doesn’t matter if they cause them.

100 millions dollars advice

Just follow this 4 steps. Don’t hire a multi million consulting firm. Don’t buy the latest AI boot. Don’t spend on a CRM. Just:

1- No walls between your company and your clients. Have an human, a face, another human being, so your clients can go and talk about the problems your company can’t solve.

2- Listen to them. Understand what the problem is. Really understand what the problem is. Don’t fill in forms, listen.

3-Solve their problems. Solve the problem for them, don’t give instructions on how to solve it. Don’t say “sorry”, say “don’t worry, it is solved now”.

4-Show them that you care. You show that you care if a decision maker contact them. Don’t have a 20 years old sending a standard email. Have your manager contacting the client.