Today, product competence is something every business must master in order to have any reasonable chance for profit at all. Product competence is achieved when the product or service works as stated, without much risk of failure, and is available at a reasonable price (not necessarily the least expensive, but within the range of competitive prices). By the end of the 20th Century, nearly every business in the industrialized world had already become reasonably product competent, because any company that was product incompetent had either gone out of business already or been absorbed into a more successful firm.
Customer competence, however, is something altogether different from product competence, and boils down to two basic issues: relevance and trustability.
A relevant customer experience is one in which different customers are treated differently, and each customer is treated appropriately. To be relevant to customers you must be able and willing to recognize and remember individual customers from transaction to transaction, channel to channel, across different products or services or silos, and through time.
And a trustable customer experience is delivered when a business proactively acts in the customer’s interest, even when this sometimes involves a cost to the business. Trustability requires having genuine, human empathy for customers, and then treating each customer the way you would want to be treated if you were that customer.
You could think of relevance in terms of knowing who the customer is and what they want, while trustability involves seeing the world through that customer’s own eyes.
Unfortunately, customer competence is something that the vast majority of businesses have yet to master, even today. Want to evaluate your own business? If any of the following statements are true, then your company, too, is still customer incompetent:
A customer sometimes finds it necessary to tell you things about themselves, their preferences, or their previous patronage that they either told you before, or that you could have observed.
When a customer switches channels in an interaction with you – say, from your web site to a phone call – you still have to ask what the customer’s last interactions were, even though these interactions took place on your own web site or app, so they should have been observable to you.
You rarely change how you treat a customer, or what you offer to a customer, based on their previous transactions or interactions with you.
You don’t survey customers to assess their individual attitudes and level of satisfaction.
You survey customers for satisfaction, but you don’t act on these findings by reaching out immediately (i.e., in less than 24 hours) to those customers who identify as dissatisfied.
You haven’t yet installed the business processes, tools and technology safeguards necessary to ensure that your customers’ privacy is protected, and their personal data is secure.
Your sales and customer-contact workers are trained in how to upgrade customers to more expensive products or services, but not in how to help customers minimize their own costs or meet their need with less product.
You never encourage a customer to buy a competitive product or service, even when it might be more suitable for their needs than yours is.
You make money from customer oversights and mistakes (i.e., automatic subscription renewals, accidental late fees, and the like).
You profit more by selling to unknowledgable customers than to those who know the category best.
You avoid admitting errors or talking about your own product weaknesses to customers.
You don’t facilitate customer reviews of your products on your own website.
LikeIs Your Business Incompetent in its Dealings with Customers?CommentShareShare Is Your Business Incompetent in its Dealings with Customers?
Author: Don Peppers:Best-Selling Author. Keynote Speaker. Customer Experience via Linked in https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/your-business-incompetent-its-dealings-customers-don-peppers
Photo Credit: Shutterstock via Linkedin