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Customer centricity where it matters...

Twice in the last week I was blown away by unexpected “post-service” service.

The first event related to my local Thai massage place. It’s a place I go to a lot (thank you, computer work), and I’ve always left a lot more relaxed and headache free than before I entered. But on this particular occasion, I did not have a great time. In fact, I spent much of the massage in tears, both from pain and disappointment that I’d paid good money for a really awful massage. I’m all for standing up for myself when it comes to bad service, but when most of your clothes are in a basket under the bed, it’s less easy. I asked her to stop, but she just said sorry, over and over again. A problem of unshared language and a sense of powerlessness.

At the end of the session, when the receptionist asked me how it was, I told her, in all honesty, “It was terrible”. She looked aghast, asked me to sit down (which I was in no mood for) and when I said “it was fine” (aka, in no way was it fine at all), she asked me to please leave my number. To my utter pleasure, I received a call back not 30 minutes later. Having consulted her boss, she offered me an apology and a free replacement massage (with someone else) at a time of my liking. And it was brilliant – as it normally is. Instead of resorting to google reviews to vent my frustration, by asking for my experience, and responding to it, they re-earned my trust and future custom within a few hours of deep dissatisfaction.

In the second event, I was absolutely blown away by the service I received from Rounded, an online accounting software business. I’ll be the first to confess that accounting is not a thing that bring me joy , and Rounded solved this problem for me with simplicity and ease. However, a change in business circumstances (outsourcing! Hooray) meant I stopped using Rounded a few months back.

Being an “accounting-avoider”, I really hadn’t thought to download my data when I didn’t renew my service. Of course, 8 months later when I needed to access the previous year’s expenses and invoices to do my taxes (and by do my taxes I mean get someone else to do my taxes) I ran into a little problem. I no longer had access to it.

Onto their chat I jumped, and low and behold, less than 24 hours I had a link to download all the data I needed - in a very useable format. Too many years dealing with banks, I was expecting some push back here, some need to pay a fee or similar - but that is not what happened at all. Just the opposite. Friendly, helpful service, and problem solution without a single bit of fuss – for someone who is not even a customer anymore. I’d recommend them too.

The lessons here apply to everyone – in a digital age, engagement doesn’t end when the product is sold, and customer service matters regardless of the size of your business.

There are a lot of statistics floating about on the internet about the power of reviews, and they all agree that the vast majority (think 9 out of 10) of people use reviews to make purchase decisions. And those reviews are not just left by current customers, but by past and potential customers too. Reviews give customers a lot of power (hurrah!), and as a result they’re a great reminder for businesses themselves to think “customer first”. Always. When a business goes beyond to help people who engage with them become referrers, then they’re doing something right.

To get there takes more than a marketing campaign, though. It’s about embedding customer centricity into the cultural fabric of an organisation. There is a reason the four P’s jumped to the 7-P’s when the world of business got digitally transformed. One of the additional P’s is for people. In my massage example, I didn’t speak to the owner, who wasn’t even there, but all the senior staff knew it mattered. They felt personally responsible for making sure I left happy, at least that is how it felt to me. With Rounded, I didn’t have the navigate a chatbot (which I personally hate). A real human responded, with empathy and a satisfaction mindset.

Customer centricity matters, at a very real level. Not just for ensuring you have the right products / services that meets the needs of your customers, but in every moment of interaction with the humans who engage with your business. This is where the rubber meets the road. Where customer centricity is embedded into the systems and culture and attitudes of an organisation, so that everyone is pulling in the same direction.

It's still rare enough that when you come across it, you want to share it with the world.




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