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BEING Your Customer... Gift or Acquired Habit?

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Posted May 9, 2001 By EnterpriseAppsToday.com Staff     Feedback

The bigger my site gets, the more I realize how easy it is to lose track of the customer. I used to answer all my own e-mail. Sadly, that's impossible now.

By Ken Envoy,M.D.

The bigger SiteSell.com gets, the more I realize how easy it is to lose track of the customer. I used to answer all my own e-mail... sadly, that's impossible now.

Since there's a team of people to do that, I started feeling separated, somewhat unsure of what was happening at every point that a customer contacts our business.

Things could unravel and I wouldn't know. So we instituted a weekly meeting between me and the support staff. Good or bad, I want to hear anything that happens more than one time. In other words, I want to know about any feedback or problem that occurs more than once.

Plus, we started an important policy. Every e-mail from our support staff bears a sig file that says...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ SiteSell/5 Pillar Support
Dedicated to helping you build your business online

If this e-mail requires a reply, please reply-to this entire
e-mail so I can help you faster by following the thread.
Also, it ensures that your reply comes to me personally. :-)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Sidebar from Ken -- Customer support tries its hardest.
If you are not satisfied with the level of support, I would
like to hear about it personally. If you are DELIGHTED with
the support, I would also love to hear about it.

I have set up a special e-mail box just to hear your feedback
about customer support. Let me know... help@sitesell.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So, our support staff knows they are accountable. And I know how we're doing (50-1 positive feedback -- personally, based on the feedback from folks who deal with support, I feel that our support staff does the best job on the Net!).

Bottom line? Even though we grow bigger...

My finger is on the pulse. Yours must be, too.

"If it's so important, why don't more companies do it?"

Boy, is that the million dollar question. And sorry Regis, I don't know if that's my final answer! But let me tell you a couple of short stories to illustrate...

I was invited to lunch the other day by Tal Bevan, President of UUNET Canada. UUNET is Canada's #1 bandwidth provider. So why was little old me invited to lunch?

Mr. Bevan had requested his sales force to pick representatives from 10 companies to have lunch with him. Why?

He wanted to know how UUNET was doing! At lunch, interspersed with small talk, he asked his questions... "what's good" and "what's bad" and "what should we keep on doing?"

You should have see him scribbling away, especially when we told him about problem areas.

But here's the point... Mr. Bevan felt that he needed to strip away all the people between him and his customers. He needed to get his finger on the pulse.

He also said something that stuck with me, and will stick with me forever, as we grow...

"Never hire someone who is more than one step removed from the customer."

Think about that... everyone in your company must either "touch the customer" or supervise the people who do.

I'd push that one step forward... the supervisor should have previously had direct customer experience, and should continue to have some, from time to time.

If you lose track of your customer's experience at any point where s/he contacts your business, you sow the seeds for a growing, unchecked problem.

--

Second story... I still practice a little medicine at a minor emergency clinic, every third weekend or so (unfortunately, it's been getting less and less frequent).

I enjoy chatting with my patients, even though it's a busy, rushed environment. A few months ago, I received a most interesting lady.

She owned an ad agency. The agency had two large pharmaceutical companies as clients. After a few minutes of chit-chat, guess what she asked me...

"Would you keep all your pharmaceutical junk mail and send it to me? Don't change what you do. Open the ones that get your interest, leave the others unopened. Every couple of weeks, just send me it all in a big envelope?"

Now... is this a customer-focused person, or what? Many of these mailing pieces were designed by her firm, of course. She wanted to see which ones worked, and what her competitors were doing and how they were faring.

--

So what do you think? Are these people just genetically brilliant? Does their customer focus come naturally?

Nope.

It just takes practice. It does not come naturally for anyone. It's just too easy to fall back inside your own skin.

It certainly didn't come naturally for me. During my first year online, I kept a yellow Post-it note on my computer. It said...

"What is my customer's experience now?"

Every time I looked at it, I applied that question to a different part of the business.

With time, BECOMING your customer will be natural. And your business will thrive because of it.

Here's your ACTION STEP... Review EVERY POINT OF CONTACT between you and your customer...

  • on your site -- is everything clear?
  • making the purchase -- easy to order?
  • order fulfillment -- efficient and timely?
  • your product -- does it deliver?
  • support -- problems solved fast?

Is your finger on the pulse? Are you absolutely SURE that every point is GOLDEN?

If not, put that Post-it note on your monitor!

Think of it... if every point of contact with your customer is GOLDEN, how can your online venture possibly fail?

Article by Ken Evoy, M.D.. Ken Evoy is an emergency physician. He is also the author of Make Your Site Sell!, acclaimed by most Web marketing experts as the BIBLE of selling on the Net. Since the publication of his first book, Make Your Knowledge Sell!, Make Your Price Sell!, and Make Your Words Sell! have all received similar accolades. For more info...http://www.sitesell.com/

Reprinted from InternetDay.

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