Monday, May 7, 2007

Do you know what your customer REALLY values?

This is a story to show how sometimes companies emphasize some aspects of service that have no value to the customer and neglect the ones that do.

Two weeks ago on a Thursday morning, I called a company where I am a client to make, what I considered, a routine request for a document. I was in a session all afternoon, but my cell phone kept ringing off the hooks, showing a number I did not know. I came to the office to find several messages. My document was ready... already! This speed was way beyond my wildest expectations for I am not now (or will ever be) a VIP client.

"You can pick it up tomorrow", they said. "Well, thank you," I said, "but picking it up is quite inconvenient for me. Can you mail, fax or email it?" "No,", they said. "For xyz reason that's not possible."

So, a few days later I went to pick it up. It wasn't there! Actually, it was there, I later learnt, but it was with the person responsible for VIP's. And it just happened that that person had gone to the bathroom when I got there.

I picked up the document last Thursday: 2 weeks later!

The lessons?

  1. I didn't care to be treated like a VIP. I just wanted that document mailed, faxed, delivered, emailed to me. Or, if all else failed, not have to make the trip twice. That is what was "valuable" to me, what helps me. Do YOU know what your customer finds valuable? It's not always what you think.
  2. All this investment in "speed" at the front end, and the client still got the benefit two weeks later (and is "blogging about it), because you did not control the whole delivery process. What did it cost you to control that additional step? US$ 1.30 maximum?
  3. Make sure the "VIP client" knows what to do when the "employee-in-charge-of-VIP's goes to the bathroom.

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