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Size doesn't matter - These customer experience Champions have BIG Hearts - Gerry Brown - Blog

Size doesn't matter - These customer experience Champions have BIG Hearts

Imagine being perched on a narrow scaffold, totally exposed to the raw December wind that thundered across the Atlantic and was now scampering across Somerset along with the driving rain and a bad attitude. Despite the ever worsening weather and the depressing forecast the indomitable duo, who were working on the roof of our recently purchased house, were determined to finish the job on time, on budget and with a care and precision rarely seen in any business, and especially not from the original builders of the house. Outside building work is never much fun, and British builders do come in for a fair share of criticism, but my latest customer experience heroes are true “Champions” in more ways than one.

Most of the articles, blogs and case studies that surface about customer service and customer experience tend to be about large recognizable companies that many of us do businesses with and either love or hate. This suggests that a great experience in the world of smaller business either doesn’t exist, or nobody cares. Nothing could be further from the truth and while many of my ramblings have been about the larger, more conspicuous poster children for customer experience, I’m realizing, as with many things, that size doesn’t matter. It’s also very clear that true customer experience champions, regardless of provenance, size and industry segment, know that building relationships is vital and non-negotiable in the battle for customer loyalty and retention. While perhaps we don’t hear as many of these stories as we should, their message is starting to resonate and grow and across the customer landscape.

All businesses large and small, could take a leaf out of Gordon and Jeremy Champion’s book on how to win and retain customers and keep them happy. I’m pretty sure this well established, Somerset based, father and son team, haven’t read any of my blogs, articles or white papers, or attended any of my workshops. Perhaps there’s been a little osmosis over a cup of coffee, but I’m guessing they had customer experience sussed out long before I came along or before it became the technology fashionistas enhancement de jour and the raison d’etre for overpriced, underwhelming, conference porn.

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So in keeping with the best articles of the day and possibly some of those conference speakers, here are the top 5 things that Gordon and Jeremy featured in their customer experience master class that we can learn from:

  1. They maintained regular and open communications that kept us informed and updated on a regular basis, especially when really bad weather threatened, without having to chase them (delivery companies, especially UK Mail and City Link, please note)
  2. They had a simple pricing formula – We work this many hours at this rate and you pay us this much – But they also went above and beyond and over-delivered on quality and quantity (utility companies, especially British Gas and E.ON, please note)
  3. They used simple, easy to understand language (it’s called English) to explain what needed doing, why, and how much. A sharp intake of breath, followed by a shaking of the head seemed to be a physically impossible and indecent act for them. (all car repair organizations especially Grange Jaguar in Exeter, please note)
  4. They were truthful and honest about what was critical and necessary work for both our long term comfort and the value of our investment. They operated with total integrity, transparency and trust at all times and we never felt that we were being taken for a ride (all UK banks, except Metro Bank, please note)
  5. They made a real emotional connection with us and made us feel like real human beings. Never talking down to us, (except when they were on the roof), sharing their expertise willingly, always understanding what it’s like to own a 70’s built house and the lifetime of challenges that represents. And finally they did their level best to do the right thing for us – the customers – even if it didn’t enrich them. (you can take your pick on who should note this one, but probably everyone)

Revolutionary stuff isn’t it? But how many companies that you do business with fail miserably to live by any of these worthy and honorable attributes? How many seem to have forgotten that it’s still people working with people? And how many can you say are truly honest and trustworthy?

The best way I can sum up this experience, and the way that Gordon and Jeremy conduct their business and their lives, is by borrowing some words and a formula from a recent blog on Trust, by my friend and fellow customer experience aficionado, Ian Golding

TRUST = honesty x reliability x consistency + care

Most of us, both personally and professionally, strive to live by this formula and with Gordon and Jeremy there’s no compromise. They are constant and welcome reminders that most successful businesses are still built on fundamental principles, driven by personal interactions and fortified by emotional connections, regardless of the size of the company. But for many, when they pull on their company uniform (literally or metaphorically), dumb company policies, outmoded procedures, quarterly objectives and company focused metrics, force them to deposit their integrity, common sense and emotions in a drawer marked “not to be opened during business hours.”   

These Champions took that drawer and the whole desk to the tip a long time ago.  Maybe it’s time to follow their lead and to recycle our own customer experience strategy.


Publish Date: March 18, 2014 12:44 PM

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