I love the resurgence I am seeing in the business world towards the idea of placing a high value not only on people, but relationships. They always matter, and that includes business relationships. It is so easy to get caught up the processes of the world, and to focus on the what instead of the who.
Previously, I believe the world revolved around a results driven outcome. What are the numbers? Where’s our progress? How are we doing? Numbers are great and have their place in any business, but they should never be the end-all be-all.
Business should never be about B2B or B2C. It should be P2P, or person to person.
Don’t treat consumers like they are a number or a dollar sign. Find a higher, more dignified purpose.
I can’t help but think of the animated movie, Finding Nemo, in this situation. During the journey, the main characters Dory and Marlin encounter a group of sharks who meet regularly almost like an alcoholics anonymous group, but their slogan is better: “Fish are friends, not food.”
Sharks, whose primary sustenance comes from eating fish, are trying to reform themselves and make friends with those they used to terrorize. Sure it’s a hyperbolic example, but I think you can see my parallel. Consumers should be our friends, not a means to an end. People are the ultimate end.
So why not treat them that way? Why not treat every customer like they matter?
Going a step further, let’s not just customers that way, let’s create processes that stand alone and reflect the attitude of the people running the company. Let’s take AT&T for example. I have my cable and internet via AT&T UVerse. I was beyond pleased with my service over the course of the first year…we had great rates, great service and great customer service. But recently my one year contract with them expired and because I had ‘first-year discounts’ my bill spiked $60 per month as soon as those discounts expired.
I dealt with the customer service and they were fairly accommodating and helped me lower my bill, but my monthly payment has still increased about $25/month. And I’m supposed to be pleased with that, because it’s the norm in the cable/internet industry.
But, in what world should we ever be okay with a significant price increase for the same products and services for being a loyal customer. And not only a loyal customer, but someone who has referred friends to said service because the first year was such a great experience…
It makes no sense. The customer service is great and I’m always treated well, but the processes don’t match up. Had they started me off at the rate I’m paying now and just never increased it, I would’ve been fine. But, because I got a cheaper rate and it goes up for being a loyal customer I am left with a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t have many other options and the cable companies know this, so they exploit it. They can say they love their customers and try and schmooze us, but when it comes down to it, their processes tell a completely different story.
Are you telling one story in your personal interactions and another with your processes and the way you do business?
Believe me, even if you ignore it, people will take notice. And they will always remember.
So, why not just be aligned all the way through? Be transparent and consistent. Your customers will reward you for it and so will your friends. Be who you say you are going to be. People will take notice.
Have you experienced what I’m talking about? Had a poor experience with a person or company saying one thing and doing another? Have you had an incredible experience where everything lined up? Tell me about it in the comments.