In my last few column articles, we discussed how to measure Customer Value and have examined the softer side of Customer Value Management. Tools of Total Customer Value Management include building a Customer Strategy and the Customer Centric Circles.
In this article, we will discuss the Customer’s Bill of Rights, and why they are important in building a Customer Culture.
Customer’s Bill of Rights
We have all seen Customer’s Bill of Rights. How often are these really honoured? More importantly, how many executives/employees know about the Bill of Rights and how to use them and uphold them?
I bet in most companies the executives and the Customers do not know the Bill of Rights. So in one Tata company, at the Customer centre, the company put the Bill of Rights on the wall behind the executive so that the Customer could see his rights. Very soon they put it on the wall behind where the Customer sits… so that the executive could also see it. And what a difference it made.
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There are a number of steps in making a Customer’s Bill of Rights. Some are self-evident, like the right to get a product to work and honour the warranty. Less obvious are the rights to return a product, get it fixed, access to a knowledgeable, friendly, empathetic service person, no price gouging, no bait and sell, time bound repairs and delivery etc.
Second, how do you find out whether a particular right is upholdable? Let’s say the country you sell in insists on a maximum retail price on the package. So you put this in your Bill of Rights. How do you prevent someone from selling at a higher price during shortages?
Third, if there is a problem, how do you uphold the Bill of Rights? Let’s say the Bill of Rights says a product will be repaired in two days. The frontline person may say that to the Customer also, but does he know that this will happen? This requires all the people responsible for this to ensure this happens. This is the Circle of Promises.
This brings in everyone into focusing on the Customers, engenders team work and a Customer focus.
The Circle of Promises
The Circle of Promises is the understanding by people in the company or partners that they are part of a promise to uphold the Customer’s Bill of Rights. They have to be in the loop and understand the meaning of their promise. More importantly, they should form a Customer-Centric Circle to discuss improvements and where promises were not kept and how to solve problems. This will help change mind sets. This is shown in Figure 1.1
Continuous Customer Improvement Program
A Continuous Customer Improvement Program (CCIP) is necessary to keep ahead of competition. The Customer-Centric Circles and the awareness through the Customer’s Bill of Rights and the Circle of Promises conditions the employees to seek more ways to please Customers. This becomes a Continuous Customer Improvement Program.
As the program takes root, we find that more and more ideas to improve Customer Value through Customer experience or the Customer journey surface. Ideas on Customer intimacy, Customer satisfaction, CRM, Customer delight, Customer customisation, and Customer channels can all be discussed.
As we work on the CCIP, we realise that we could actually incorporate systemic changes that could prevent a problem we have noticed from happening with other Customers. Or we could notice that Customers ask the same question…we cannot find your product in the stores. We should then correct this situation, or at least communicate with the Customer where to find the product or offer to deliver it to them.
We have to work towards reducing complaints or getting closer to Zero Complaints. Most people believe this is not possible, but we all agree we can strive towards it.
In this article, we have taken Customer-centricity and Customer mind-set to the next level by allowing the Customer Circles to focus on the Customer’s Bill of Rights, understand its importance, and how to ensure that the promises enshrined in the Bill of Rights are upheld.
This is through the Circle of Promises and ensuring that the people involved understand this. And to build their involvement and mind-set, a special Customer Circle including the people in the Circle of Promises is a good idea.
Customer Circles then can embark on a Continuous Customer Improvement Program. This can eventually focus on all aspects of Customer Value such as the Customer Journey, the Customer Experience, CRM, customisation can be worked on.
What items require systemic and procedural changes? How can we get to Zero Complaints?
Total Customer Value Management which includes the Customer Circles and the Customer’s Bill of Rights help all departments and executives to have a Customer focus. It is the foundation of building a Customer culture. Customer strategy and Customer Centric Circles are building blocks of the Customer culture and a Customer mind-set. This gives the company a great competitive advantage.
Do it Yourself
Think of where you could set up front line Customer Centric Circles. Who should be in it? What should be the agenda? What are follow-up steps, and who has responsibility for it? Who will call the next meeting and review what was discussed and the results?
Think if how to set up Customer Circles in various departments like IT and HR. See how they become Customer centric.
What is your Customer Bill of Rights? Can you build one?
Can you embark on a Continuous Customer Improvement Program? How will you ensure ideas are cross fertilised?
How does the CCIP look at the Customer Experience, the Customer Journey, and CRM? How can you reduce the Customer Journey?
When you solve a new problem or a different problem for a Customer, do you think this is possibly important for other Customers or could cause them problems? If so, what can we do to prevent these from happening?
What can we do to move towards Zero Complaints?