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Innovation: Who OWNS Your Customers?

This is a question we have all asked ourselves inside organizations for years. Is it marketing? Maybe it’s the sales group? Or do you think it’s the customer service people? The answer has been staring at us in the face the whole time: nobody does, they own themselves.

This is a question we have all asked ourselves inside organizations for years. Is it marketing? Maybe it’s the sales group? Or do you think it’s the customer service people? The answer has been staring at us in the face the whole time: nobody does, they own themselves.

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Like all obvious statements, this may smack a bit simplistic. Yet, common sense tends not to be that common. I cannot take the credit for this insight all by myself. It was a question I asked on my blog that prompted a marketer with customer service focus to respond (thanks, Becky).

Maybe the problem and answer are lumped together — if nobody owns the customer, then the whole company does, in a manner of speaking. If you’ve worked inside an organization, you will know that generally sales reps are very jealous of their customers and sometimes it is difficult to have a company wide conversation with them. Multiple touch points can actually be a good thing.

How can companies make sure they provide support and service to their customers from the departments that can provide that assistance? I think that the top echelon of organizations should be paying attention and be held accountable for customer relationships. The visit shouldn’t be just a routine, run of the mill, perfunctory trip. It should be an opportunity to sit down and speak frankly about what lies ahead, together.

When I met the President of NetApp, Tom Mendoza, I was deeply impressed by his presence and warmth. The company’s customers and partners were too – they came from a distance (some) and made time to attend a non company sponsored event with our group just to hear him speak (a snippet here) about NetApp’s work and be inspired. I was; you would have been as well.

How can companies executive teams get in touch again with their customers and the issues they are facing? Why aren’t executive teams aware of how important that is?

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Would it come as a shock to you to find out that the most highly paid corporate people do not know the costs of doing business inside and outside their organization? An online survey conducted by Strativity Group, Inc., a consulting company based in Parsippany, NJ, reports that over 300 executives:

81% do not know the cost of a customer complaint
75% do not know the cost of acquiring a new customer
60% claim they do not deserve their customers’ loyalty
51% claim their company does not deliver unique and beneficial products or services
50% do not know their organization’s annual customer retention rates

Those executives also acknowledged that they knew they had some homework to do. I promise you that Mr. Mendoza knows those answers, as he knows the names of many of his customers and employees.

Your customers own themselves. Who owns the accountability for forging and strengthening relationships with them in your organization?

Valeria Maltoni • Conversation Agent • Philadelphia, PA • ConversationAgent@gmail.comwww.conversationagent.com

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