How do you know you are a Pain in the Neck? Part 2 of a 3-Part Series on Being a PITN


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Yesterday I put it out there regarding a PITN and the barriers in doing business with organizations. In Part 2 of our 3-part series, it’s time to find out how you uncover that you are a PITN complete with customer barriers. I’ll share the high level details of a case study where we uncovered a major barrier with a business partner. This barrier was such a large pain in the ass that it was significantly affecting the brand.

Go ahead and ignore that you are a pain in the neck

I had a recent experience with one of the warehouse clubs when I attempted to enroll for a Business Plus Membership for CRM. We are the perfect potential customer – willing to serve ourselves online and make their cash register ring for an extremely small cost to them.

After completing the application more than three times to find that each time the “wrong city entered” error popped up and prevented me from giving them $100 for the membership. Ugh. Sterling, VA has been our city for more than ten years. I know how to spell it. I know the zip code, but alas, the website told me that this was WRONG and would not accept it.

Determined to give them $100, I call the website technical support number and explain that I am getting an error for what is really my city. I am placed on hold for more than five minutes before Harold comes back on the line and says that he Googled Sterling, VA and that is a city. Well, thanks for doing that for me, Harold, now will you sign me up for a membership? He cannot do that. As I explain to him that their website has a glitch that is preventing me from signing up, he actually laughs and says, “yes, that’s what it seems like”. It’s been nine days since he submitted my case to whomever and I have yet to get a call. Do I really want to be a member? Maybe I do since there aren’t any other members from Sterling, VA. It could explain why there are literally 20 times as many cars in the parking lot of the other warehouse store at exactly the same time of day.

No, not a hostage situation, an OSTRICH situation

Just as the old proverb goes for people – “You can’t go through life burying your head in the sand” – the same rule applies for organizations, specifically PITN organizations. You certainly can’t ignore a problem once you’ve uncovered it and you certainly can’t uncover a problem by simply not asking the right question. Often times, we engage with organizations that live in fear, fear of knowing what the answers will be to the question, “How easy is it to do business with us?” This is what we call, the “Ostrich Syndrome.” These companies bury their heads in the sand by not asking their customers about the ease or difficulty in doing business with them. Perhaps they would rather not know, perhaps they would uncover a barrier which needs attention and they do not have the resources to take action to fix it or perhaps it’s just not something they think about.

The problem with being an Ostrich, other than the obvious, is just like the case study aforementioned – problems left to their own devices create an irreversible damage to your reputation and potentially your brand. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from friends or family, “don’t buy that product because their warranty program is a joke” or “don’t go with that service because they are such a pain in the ass when it comes to billing issues.” Customers will talk and share their experiences especially if you do not allow them the opportunity to tell you themselves. Think about how you could change an angry customer’s perception of your PITN ways if you allowed them to tell you how difficult it was to do business with you and then responded to them with a solution. What a concept!

It’s time to ask yourself, would your organization be considered an Ostrich?

In the name of full disclosure, how easy is it to do business with you?

Customer-centricity is a major buzz word these days and many organizations claim that they are the best at it. Now, with so many “customer-centric” companies out there today, I have to wonder, “why are we still seeing PITN barriers?” The company claim is not always the customer reality. If you claim to be customer-centric, your processes need to be easy, simple, clear and defined; not difficult, tedious, clouded and obscure. If you offer a rebate, customers will expect to receive their money back and do so in a timely manner. If a customer bought your warranty program, make it worth their while – they probably paid a good amount of money for the value they were sold on. Truly make it about the customer experience, give them the keys and let them drive. That’s customer-centricity at its finest.

What is the status of your barriers? Have they become fewer, smaller, bigger, larger, more? Tell us. Don’t be ashamed. Sharing helps to learn from one another. Part 3 in this 3-part series will unveil how to overcome these barriers.

~ Dr. Jodie Monger, President

Jodie Monger
Jodie Monger, Ph.D. is the president of Customer Relationship Metrics (CRM) and a pioneer in business intelligence for the contact center industry. Dr. Jodie's work at CRM focuses on converting unstructured data into structured data for business action. Her research areas include customer experience, speech and operational analytics. Before founding CRM, she was the founding associate director of Purdue University's Center for Customer-Driven Quality.


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