Is Raising Your Customers The Same As Raising Your Children?

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I think it is. The other day I was trying to resolve an issue with my 7 year old Son and found myself using the same tactics as I would with a Customer. This got me thinking…

I work in the software industry and enjoy being part of the cycle of bringing customers in and watching them transform from prospect to customer to active user. Most of my experience, views and opinions are based on software implementations in the Supply Chain Industry and I come across customers that range from tier 3 to tier 1 cliental. My background is sales and customer service and have been part of Best Practice committees and training committees throughout the years.

It always baffles me when I see someone in customer service who has no business being there! Watching people make terrible decisions and assuming that their customers should pay the price is not the way anyone should conduct business. I hear horror stories from our new clients about their old vendors – don’t these companies know that people talk! In every action we take as a service provider we need to act as though the paparazzi is recording our every move because essentially with Social Media taking businesses by storm – your every move is being recorded!

When entering into a business relationship with any new customer we need to treat them as though they are a new extension of our family. Make your relationship with your customer personal and always treat them the way you would want to be treated.

Don’t Assume

When our children are growing up they ask continual questions…and answering with “Because.” is not how they are going to learn. When I bring on a new customer I need to treat them as though they have never heard of my product. I can’t assume that they know anything and I need to think ahead.

1. know what kind of questions they should be asking and address them before they have the chance to ask. Most of the time our customers don’t know what kind of questions to ask so we can’t punish them for not asking the right questions!

2. Ask a lot of questions throughout the entire project. Customers often change their minds on how they want to utilize your product. Make sure that they are completely satisfied with the product before you set it in stone.

3. Have your road map handy. Just because a customer knows what they want doesn’t mean they know how to get there. They most likely chose you as a provider not only for the price but for your expertise. Don’t sit around waiting for your customer to tell you what to do because they most likely don’t know what the next steps are -be prepared to be a leader and provide direction.

That train wreck could have been avoided

So many failed projects could have been avoided if the leaders could have just put down that bag of popcorn and stopped the train wreck instead of just watching it happen.

1. Do you help your children with their homework?If my customers project management team is not moving as quickly as they should or are not achieving their tasks – should I sit back and allow the project to fall behind and blame it on the customer? NO! Intervene! Ask if they need help or offer them your expertise on how you would complete the task.

2. It’s like teaching your child how to ride a bike. Should your customer be billed every time you offer them your hand? NO! I agree that there are instances where PM hours should be billed but if your customer is really falling behind and asking a lot of questions that you swear you have answered a dozen times – you are probably not communicating your answers in a manner that can be understood by the customer. Our customers should not pay for our mistakes.

Like children, our customers require a lot of hand holding. When our children let go of our hands we as parents still watch over them to make sure they are headed in the right direction; as it should be with our customers. I can refer you to a handful of white papers that discuss the cost associated with a failed project. Customer Service is the most cost effective solution any company can offer and needs to be practiced more.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to leave a comment. Tx.

Kari McEwen
I'm a dedicated Solutions Consultant at Datex Corp providing Software/Hardware Management solutions for SCM and OOH industries.

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