Recently in Alan Gilmour Category
I have a real problem with call centres.
And I don't suffer the people who work in call centres gladly. And even though I know it is not the fault of those answering the phones, too often these people get the sharp end of my tongue. If you are one of these people, I am sorry.
Last week is a case in point.
I had to phone a call centre to sort out my insurance. An innocuous request but once again the illogicality of a call centre process left me fuming. And even though the customer service rep I was dealing with could see the sense in my position she was unable to do anything for me as she had 'to follow orders'- a defence rejected by the Nuremburg courts! No matter. Nothing was going to budge her and so I was left back where I started, annoyed, enraged and frustrated.
It was not her fault, nor the fault of her colleagues. They did not get up in the morning and come into work to deliver bad customer service. Instead I blame the senior management of the place. These are the ones that dictated and built the process but they rarely get the chance to view their handiwork.
But how do you get these people closer to the customers who pay their wages and away from the financial reports, strategy papers and the other bumf that absorbs senior management time?
If you want to improve the food served on airlines, serve it up in the boardroom for the Board's lunch. And, in recent work I've been doing to help businesses across the region think about their customer journey and the experience their brand delivers to its customers, I have collected 5 ideas that other businesses have implemented with their senior executives.
Simulation...In one very large business senior executives take a weekly turn to simulate the complete customer experience by going through a transaction or business process as a customer. Through this they are asked to log their thoughts, feelings and emotions, positive and negative This really does help the executives walk in the shoes of the customer.
Executive Complaints...get your top team to investigate and answer one complaint a week from start to finish. They are not allowed to dictate the task to secretaries, PAs or some other flunky. It is down to them and this gives them the opportunity to uncover the cause of the complaint and any defects in the processes, the journey, and the experience.
Speed Dating...the executive get to team meet a group of customers and each executive has 10 minutes with each customer on different topics. After their time is up they move onto the next customer. I think it is important in this context that the team work off the customer's agenda as well as their own.
Hanging on the telephone... the senior management team to randomly phone customers on a regular basis (even those who have provided low customer satisfaction scores) to ask them what they think of the experience or how it could be improved.
'Meet the Manager'/ 'Tweet the Manager'...sessions which allow to contact or meet directly with the management of the business on a regular basis. It might be scary but it does show great commitment to your customers and your people.
These ideas take time and courage, commodities which can both be in short supply, but the willingness of the management team to adopt ideas like these show real and genuine commitment to improving the customer experience and to walking in the footsteps of your customers.
Now here is a mystery.
Why are there no soaps set in the Midlands? London has East Enders, Manchester 'Corrie' and Liverpool has 'Hollyoaks'. We don't even have any of the constructed reality programmes set in the Midlands like 'TOWIE, 'Geordie Shores' or 'Desperate Scousewives'.
I have no idea why this is, though not sure it's much of a loss. But did you know that watching the soaps is can help build strong brands.
All this week in The Mailbox there has been a celebration of the Midland's great design heritage and of the region as the home of some of this country's great brands-Jaguar, Triumph, Land Rover, Aga, JCB and even Marmite. If you haven't already been to this celebration get down there quick.
In my job I spend a lot of my time trying to design and develop brands. I don't do the creative work on brands but instead it is my job to come up with the underlying definition of the brand. I try to define what it is going to stand for; the promise it is going to make, and to try to keep, to its customers; and how it should present itself to its market. Someday it is my hope that the brands I am working on will feature in an exhibition of great brands.
It took me a wee while to find inspiration for my first blog but I found it in a place not renowned for its inspiring qualities.
And from this unlikely beginning, the intention is to provoke debate and stimulate thinking on the business of marketing and the marketing of business. Hopefully you will enjoy sharing and discussing my views.
Last week I had to leave Birmingham for the delights of London. Fortunately this gave me the opportunity to travel with my favourite train company and to meet up again with the people working there who make travelling a real pleasure.