A true test of any company is what happens when things go wrong. Does the leadership step up to fix a problem? Is it a bandaid fix? or is it something permanent, that involves going to the root cause of a problem.
The world’s most customer centric company, Amazon has a great methodology called “Correction of Error” or COE. As Scott Brinker outlines in his article on innovating like Amazon: It has been baked into their culture and requires all leaders to ask the following questions:
- What happened?
- What was the impact on customers and your business?
- What was the root cause?
- What data do you have to support this?
- What were the critical implications, especially security?
- What lessons did you learn?
- What corrective actions are you taking to prevent this from happening again?
This is a great way to ensure that Amazon continues to learn and minimizes the chance that the same problem will happen for multiple customers.
Now for a fun 60 second example from the movie “Meet the Parents” with Ben Stiller
While this is obviously a made-up example, I am sure many of us have had similar experiences of over zealous staff taking policies and procedures a little too seriously.
If you were the responsible manager, or a colleague, what would you do?
The credit department of most organizations is quick to ask customers to pay their accounts – particularly if they are overdue. If you get a call from a certain cable company in the US and are asked to pay your account, it should be easy to do so – but it is not! The options you are given as a customer by the caller are:
- you find your invoice and pay it
- you go to a shop and pay it or
- you go online and pay it
Each of these 3 options require you to do something – taking extra time you don’t have. The person calling you on the phone is not able to either send you another invoice (since you can’t find the original one) or take your payment by credit card. Their reminder call has already taken up your time and you are obliged to spend more time.
A simple change in process would add value for you as a customer. The current process reduces the value of your relationship with the company.
If customer relationships are important to your business find out if your finance department adds or reduces value for your customers. It may be inaccurate or confusing bills for the customer, difficulty in paying bills online or in person, unhelpful customer service people or confusing terms and conditions relating to payment. If it reduces value then you are at risk of losing customers through their frustration and dissatisfaction.
Being customer-centric is just as important for the finance department as it is for the marketing, sales and customer service groups. They need to have a view that they are not only collecting money, but they are in the business of retaining satisfied customers.
Without a strong customer culture, this behavior will continue, unquestioned as its just the way we do things around here…
Don’t let this be the case in your company!