Don’t Forget The Small Things

Closed On Christmas Day

Many years ago when working for a liquor retailer, I would take on the task of the Christmas Day store checks.  It was pretty simple, go into each store in a geographic area, do a perimeter check, and reset the alarm.  In all, it took an hour or so from my afternoon where I would have otherwise been doing nothing and it saved others who were spending time with their families from having to do so.

Inevitably, once I would enter the store – and at just about every location that had a street view of the parking lot – a potential customer would come knocking on the door.  The plea was, in their view, simple and small.  Just a bottle of wine for dinner, or perhaps a six pack of beer for the unexpected visitor.  While seemingly simple – that request was complicated by two things: I did not have access to the store systems to register the purchase and it was in a state where you were not permitted to sell alcoholic beverages outside the posted hours of the store.

I remember all the bargaining, the attempted bribes and even a few threats which resulted in me having to use a different exit. One disappointed and angry customer stands to me even thirty years later with the last effort to get me to let him in: “You must not care about the customer, I’m never going to shop here again.”

The Customer Is Always Right? 

One of my favorite lines from a movie: “60% of the time, it works every time”.  If I were asked if the customer is always right, my instinct would be to repeat that quote.  There is the reality that your frontline workers feel that way on a daily basis.  Whether handling customers in a store or bank branch or dealing with them in a complicated project management scenario. 

While humorous, it is unfortunate that this type of humour is sometimes used to get through the day.  It means the customer is seen as an adversary, often because management has repeated the mantra of “the customer is always right” as the simple talking point for the customer experience.  Instead of creating an environment of empathy and caring surrounding the customers and the employees, a phrase like “the customer is always right” actually has the opposite effect.

There is a reason we have tools like revenue weighted NPS, we recognize broadly that not all customers have the same value to a business.  Similarly, not every customer has to be served.  

Remember The Frontline 

One of my favorite Christmas stories is the one about the Christmas Truce on the frontlines of World War I.  On the 100 year anniversary, Sainsbury released a commercial about it and if you don’t know the story, the four minutes here will be a great, if not emotional, summary.

During the height of the bitterness of a war, the opposition parties took a break for the day just to live life like they once knew it.  This year, among a very difficult year for all frontline workers – whether considered essential or non-essential, it is a great time to look at how we work together to make the entire experience better, both the customer experience and the employee experience.  Build up a respect of customer, employee and company.  

As we enter the final stretch of this holiday season, it may be time to rethink the customer journey and include all the stakeholders within the complicated matrix or customer experience.  Until then, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  And I look forward to sharing more CX thoughts every Tuesday morning in 2021.  

Join the next ConneXt Live! that features Mike Whittenstein, where he will share how stories make for better buy-in.  Learn for 20 minutes and meet eight to ten new people that have similar interests in CX as you.  If you enjoyed CX Talks, this new format will prove to be even more engaging, interactive and informative. You can register here