Now that I’m out of the non-profit world and in the corporate world, I’m more conscious of public perception of companies. In particular, the perceptions of the bloggerati who can sometimes be unforgiving in their attitudes. As a customer, I will openly admit that I’ve grown less patient with companies over the years. If I feel screwed over just one time, that’s the end of that “relationship”. Is this what we’ve come to expect? Companies need to meet our own sense of perfection or else?
And then we wonder why our own work is a less-than-fantastic experience. It’s actually a vicious cycle. The customer demands their own personally perfect interaction which puts pressure on the company to respond. Then, those of us inside the company or non-profit have to work harder than ever to meet these ever-escalating customer expectations. All of this may indeed explain the long hours, intense competitive pressure, and lack of fulfillment that makes our work a joyless pursuit.
Want to change this dynamic? Good…it’s simple (I’ll leave whether it’s easy up to you).
First, stop being an overly demanding and unfair customer. Since when has the one strike you’re out rule applied in baseball or one foul you’re out in basketball? Never. So, if a company screws up don’t give up on them. Same thing applies to a restaurant, a shop, an online service. Talk to someone who can make things happen and let them know that you’ve been disappointed and then…
Second, start being a coaching customer. If that company screws up, let them know what they did and how they can make it better. If your restaurant server’s service isn’t up to your expectations, let them know…don’t just tell the manager after the meal is over.
Third, and finally, make each transaction about more than just money. Within that financial trade is the opportunity for greater value. Be the kind of customer you want to work with in your own work. Be respectful and reasonable and caring. Remember that you get what you give.
I know some companies aren’t going to get this. They may shrug off your attempts at being a good customer, but I’d argue that these companies are actually few in number. Trust me…within each company there is at least one person who gives a damn as to the organization succeeds or fails. Find them and help them. And in the process, you might just be coaching your next customer.