Don’t service or process me, I am a customer

July 19, 2011

I am not a car nor am I a piece of meat, so please don’t service or process me, I am a customer! But those terms and attitudes still exist.

I recently walked into a business and was greeted with, ‘name?’ To which I replied, ‘yes, it is a lovely day!’ Well that wouldn’t happen with your company I hear you say. Ok.

Think of this situation. You have heard great things about the builder from friends and contacts, you felt comfortable with them when you visited the model home, you felt they understood you when you discussed your design and selections. You heard it would be a stressful experience but it wasn’t. The building process was interesting, you were in close contact with your construction manager the entire time and your own personalized home is finished! The time has come, you are with your sales representative, you have your paperwork in hand, financing all arranged you are about to sign on the dotted line and get that bottle of wine and those long awaited keys to your home. As you wait together in the bustling reception area you hear someone call out something, no that’s not me. They shout again, you are not sure what, but nothing related to you. They shout again, this time you think, wait a moment, what’s our new address? They are calling you! Now you are ‘101 Main Street’.  At the most exciting time all comes to a screeching halt.

Such things may not happen at your company, but what about the other organizations your customers come in contact with, like in the above situation. Remember when working with you any experiences your customers have good or bad will reflect on you.  What about when making carpet selections with one of your partners or selecting appliances. Again, ok so in the above situation you don’t have any sway over that business like you would with a trade partner, but did you have one of your team with the customer, are they sensitive and aware of such poor ‘customer focus’.  Just be aware that the customer experience encompasses their entire experience from the first time they visit until the final warranty step. Consider each step and partner in the process.

Denis Leonard has a degree in construction engineering an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in quality management. Denis is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality, a Certified Quality Manager, Auditor, and Six Sigma Black Belt. He has been an Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award Board of Examiners a Judge on the International Team Excellence Competition and a Lead Judge on the National Housing Quality Award. A former Professor of Quality at the University of Wisconsin, he has experience as a quality manager in the home building industry as well as construction engineer, site manager, and in training, auditing, and consulting with expertise in strategic and operational quality improvement initiatives. His work has achieved national quality, environmental, and safety management awards for clients. 

Denis is co-author of The Executive Guide to Understanding and Implementing the Baldrige Criteria: Improve Revenue and Create Organizational Excellence.