Those Pesky Customers
We all know them:
• Those unreasonable people who don’t understand business efficiencies and want to talk to a live representative. And worse, a live representative who can actually speak their language.
• Those people who don’t grasp the concept of “try, try again,” and immediately call for technical support or complain about the product.
• Those delusional types who think executives have nothing better to do with their day than solve customer problems.
Doing business would be so much easier if we didn’t have to deal with customers.
Okay, okay. This is obviously an exaggeration. Unfortunately, however, not by that much. Even today, with a down economy, with a rapacious competitive environment, and with buyers who can go elsewhere, customers are seen as a group to be measured and managed.
I recently read a fun article on the subject by Greg Harris. His position is that “the customer’s voice can serve as a company’s guiding light and everyone on [our] management team makes talking to customers a high priority.”
I’m all for “customer engagement” and matrices to measure it. I’m all for “customer satisfaction” studies so you can see where problems lie. I’m all for “this call may be monitored” to see how employees handle customers.
But mostly I’m for the fact that marketing is about communicating with customers, users, and prospects. And the best way to do that is to talk to them – and with them – and get to know what actually makes them tick (as opposed to what we think makes them tick).
Therefore, allow me to propose something radical:
Let’s put aside our assigned roles, our job-defined turfs, and our egos. Let’s agree that no one can claim to be a marketing professional without spending a portion of our day – or our week, or our month – without actually talking to real customers, users, and prospects. Let’s go out on real-world sales calls. Let’s spend some time taking the calls customer support reps routinely handle.
Let’s get beyond the numbers.
Keep the matrices. Keep the market research. Keep the technologies that, hopefully, make us more efficient. But as we create our strategies, our tactics, our messages, wouldn’t it be useful to have some personal, gut-level, insight into the people we are trying to reach?