Have you ever had the experience where you phone your credit card company and you are asked to enter your credit card number, your expiration date, the code on the back and your birth date, only to have to repeat all that information again when you finally get a live person on the other end of the line?
It’s frustrating, it’s unnecessary and it’s impersonal. It’s the opposite of what we want to create at Qualifirst.
We need to better connect to our customers as people. This is one of our highest priorities.
This very necessary forward step sounds simple enough, but in fact is quite complicated.
What defines better connection?
What, after all, actually defines better connection? Is it promptness of returning emails? A preference for talking live on the phone?
Does connection mean waiting for the customer to call with a question, or taking a more proactive approach by calling the customer for an â€œout-of-the-blueâ€ checkup? Does connecting refer to asking questions or sharing information?
The most important person in our universe:
Well, in my mind, it is important not to confuse the act of connecting with the quality of the connection. Physically, connection can be done by phone, email, blog, Twitter, in person â€“ all manner of interactions.
But it is the quality that counts: the definitive proof that the individual customer is the most important person in our universe; someone whose needs and problems we are familiar with, and whose life we can make both easier and more profitable by taking the time to serve them individually.
Gathering the data:
To do this we have to pull together all the information we can find on every customer and prospect who crosses our path.
To get it once, to get it right, and to store it in a location that is easy to access, review and update. Thorough customer knowledge when curated and entered into our CRM system ultimately saves time and provides greater opportunity to focus on the creative and fun parts of our work. That is the vision.
As the marketplace changes, with mobile technologies taking precedence over all other forms of relationship building, it will always be the rare and cherished company that takes the time to personalize interactions and to demonstrate a higher-than-normal level of care.
To me, that’s what the credit card scenario says most of all: banks have the budget for all of the technology and security they need, yet when it comes down to the individual customer, very little effort is made to make them feel special. It is as if banks (and cellphone companies) feel that it doesn’t matter how customers are treated â€“ the customer will stay regardless.
That is an outdated and wholly unwelcome philosophy.
Making the customer thrive:
Every sale we make has the capacity of generating a follow-up sale. But every customer we have, big or small, knows that there are other choices out there â€“ our competitors are next door and all over the world.
But they will know, also, that Qualifirst is a company that cares, and is staffed with people who have been carefully picked to ensure that the experience of buying olive oil, or chocolate or salt is one that is done with care and diligence, with the goal of making the customers’s own businesses thrive.
We have made some mistakes along the way, certainly, and we will probably make some more as we work to get it right. But mistakes represent footsteps along a path toward success, and the time, effort and money that we pour in to the act of knowing and connecting with our customers will give us an advantage over our competitors for a long time.
â€œLearning is not done to you, it is something you choose to do.â€
â€• Seth Godin, Stop Stealing Dreams