Stop Running Corporations With Your Face Towards the CEO and Back Towards Your Customers!
I had heard this statement a long time back, something that had changed the way I perceived customer relationships. The statement goes like this “In a world full of customers, we focus on our employees”. It was probably a policy of an IT company in the mid 90’s. Anyways, for years, I could not figure out why the company was adamant of “neglecting” its customers and rather being “friendly” towards their employees?
I got my answer at a very unlikely place. I was at a Coffee shop at Shimla, having a grilled sandwich with a friend of mine. Now, after a long day of strolling up and down the hills, it really makes the day to have a wonderfully grilled chicken sandwich, drenched in cheese and having layers of sauces to add the “extra” factor to it. But alas! “What!” was the first thing I uttered after the real thing actually came, looking nothing short of a disastrous spectacle of pathetic culinary skills- rotten bread surface, coupled with some pretty ordinary service.
Normally, after such an incident, the concerned people would just take away the dish and offer you a fresh one. In this case, it happened, but to my surprise, after we were done with the better version of our meal, we got complimentary coffees- peeping hot, with a smiling face drawn from cream over the froth of the upper surface of the cup. Trust me, it was the best coffee I had ever had. This led me into a conversation with their manager, and that is when I realized one of the best kept secrets of managing customer relation effectively- “Keep your employees happy, and the customer will be happy automatically. One happy employee means a million happy customers”.
Now, according to this manager, the chef who was cooking wasn’t happy with the job as he had not been promoted in stature or pay for years, but the guy who was in charge of the coffee machine had just got a rise the last evening, and it reflected in his preparations. Apparently, this might sound awkward, but the manager told us that he had been surveying many such anomalous analogies between employee satisfaction and customer support, and he had concluded that there was certainly a connection between the two. As a second part of his experiment, the manager promoted the chef too, and within a week of his promotion, the sullen sandwich, which was discarded by us, tasted better than a subway double cheese- this result was testimony to the correctness of the hypothesis of the middle-aged, astute manager, with a French cut beard and a dapper of a personality.
Today, I am a regular visitor of this café turned restaurant. Whenever I go to Shimla, I have a nice grilled sandwich, with my smiling cup of coffee- thanks to some innovative research on customer support.
I never forget to drop by at my friend- Robin’s place, who was once the manager of that café’. Today he is a proud owner of a consultancy firm in Mumbai. Customer support, as I have concluded from this small incident, in not just about soft talking your customer into buying your products, it is in fact, a process that begins after that. It should be aimed at the overall development of the organization, and the calls should be made keeping the organization in mind, not just for the sake of the salary slips!
As the famous quote by Robin Sharma goes- “Think like a CEO, even if you are the janitor”- one should be willing to do his or her bit for the organization, and the organization should satisfy their employees first in order to fulfill its customer’s needs.