Your Customer Service Sucks.

Many companies would call themselves Customer-Driven companies. Over the national TV or in an press conference interview, CEOs would tell you how hard they try to please their customers, how they resolved their complaints, and how they try to get to know their customers intimately.

The only way to find out the truth is — to be their customer for a day or even a sale transaction. This is in my opinion the best way to find out if those CEOs walk their talk.

Based on our ground experiences, the majority of CEOs who claimed they are Customer-Driven or Customer-Focused are NOT there. Many are Profit-Driven than Customer-Driven. They will do whatever they can to cut corner just to save a buck. I know my comment may offend some of my readers, but I am just speaking the truth from my experiences as a Mystery Shopper or Mystery Client of my clients’ business.

Depending on the nature of our clients’ business, we may pose ourselves as a customer buying something, making an enquiry, making a difficult request, making a complaint. We may even apply ourselves for a job in the company and observed how the interview was conducted etc.

It is through this “Undercover” jobs that we get the “ground” information to know if the culture of the client business is Customer-Driven or Profit-Driven. These information usually gives the management shocking revelation about how the people they hire run their business. In fact, these information have many uses and tell many things for example, the culture of the company, the attitude of the staff, the personal agenda of the staff, the work processes, the standard operating procedures (SOPs), and all business and customer touch-points etc.

These information are so valuable to the CEO that they can literally turn a failing company into a fired-up company in short period of time.

Frankly, after being a Turnaround Management Consultant for the last 20 years and having  turned around more than 150 SMEs in Singapore, I still think our customer initiatives suck.

All you need to do is to ask the salesperson at any retail shop that you wanted the same dress in a different size or color and watch their response. They will tell you “They are all there on the rack”. That will be their answer 95% of the time.

Next, make a phone call and make a complaint of a recent purchase and that you wanted an exchange or refund and see what happens. You will hear something like this, “It is our company policy that we do offer exchange or refund. It is printed on the receipt. Didn’t you read it?” That kind of response makes you feel like a idiot, doesn’t it? The one who answered your complaint is totally out of sync with you and your desire for an exchange or refund. Talk about being Customer-Driven or Customer-Focused.

Frankly, most SMEs are suffering in their business because they have taken their customers for granted. Their thinking has always been looking and getting more customers with sales promotions and discounts to drive in more revenues and hopefully profits to pay all expenses at the end of the month. This method of thinking is very short-term, and it is very unprofitable in the long term by any standard.

What CEOs of companies need to know statistically that a satisfied customer will tell 3 people they know about how great they were being treated by your staff. They will brag about the great experience they received from dealing with you. And about 50% of those 3 will end up coming to you and do business with you. This is the power of Word of Mouth. To me, this is the most important and cost effective way to do business. Acquiring new customers in today’s market is a high cost proposition and results are uncertain.

What about unhappy customers? How many do they tell their friends of their unhappy experiences with you? Statically 300 people. This is a 100 times disaster for any business. Especially with the social media and blogs. This 300 statistics may be an understatement.

Ok. I always try to keep my articles short. So in this article, I believe you get the idea. That a satisfied customer is definitely worth more than a newly acquired customer. Get to know your customers intimately. Remember their names, family members, birthdays, anniversaries, recently purchases, interests, and hobbies. In fact, I would recommend you to install a good CRM system if you didn’t have one yet. Also treat your employees the way you want them to treat your best customers.

Thank you. I can be reached at if you needed any further information or help.

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