It’s a principle of agile that an organisation is best when motivated people work on something together – face to face. But it’s a principle that’s routinely ignored when it comes to working with customers – and by organisations which should know better. Last week I participated in a “short survey” about a particular product, not because I had a particular desire to share my thoughts with the company concerned, but because they were offering free money (well, an Amazon voucher).
One of the questions was: “You recently engaged with one of our customer services operatives. How effectively did they resolve your query?”. Apart from the complete blandness of this question, something struck me.
Don’t they know?
I had the same experience with BT a few years ago, this was before the widespread adoption of cable TV contracts with phone connections and when BT was the monopoly provider of all domestic telephone lines, and the BT customer survey person asked “how many phones do you have in your house?”
In both cases, we can tell two really alarming things about these companies when we this sort of question.
- They can’t or won’t look up this information themselves (in both cases their internal systems should have the answer)
- They don’t trust their own staff to do their job right.
The staff who deal with customers know whether they did a good job, and they know whether the customer was happy at the end of it. So why on earth engage external companies to ask these stupid questions?
So here’s the takeaway.
If you feel like you need to ask an external firm to see whether you have a problem with how your front line staff handle customers, then you know that you have a problem with how your front line staff handle customers.
The problem may be that they don’t do it well, or that you don’t trust them, but either way, that’s a pretty big problem, because today, if you’re cut off from your customers, you will be killed off pretty quickly by an organisation that understands them and connects with them as a grown-up.