26
Aug
2009
0

Guest Blogger: Avoid the Customer Tug of War

tug-of-war1As you can probably surmise, I have had a very busy summer and haven’t been able to blog as much as I would like! (Note: You can find me fairly frequently updating on Twitter at twitter.com/bcarroll7). As the summer wraps up, I am scheduling some new posts for you, my loyal readers, which focus on customer service, marketing, customer experience, and social media.

Today I have a guest blogger for you. Sean McDonald was formerly the director of Global Online Activities at Dell and is now a principal at Ant’s Eye View. I love these guys because they are cut from the same cloth as me with a passion for customers. Enjoy Sean’s post on who owns the customer.

Avoid the Customer Tug of War

It used to be simple, customers were the responsibility of sales and customer service – those were the two primary and necessary customer touch points for a business. It worked well from a business perspective, the customer contacted you to buy something or service the product. Apart from these two instances, no dialogue was available or encouraged between the customer and the company.

What has changed is customers have a public voice on the web. Customers always had a voice before, it just was not as expansive before introduction of easy and affordable web technologies (blogs, twitter, UGC video sites). Now with all things “social” becoming vogue for companies, a new questions challenges the status quo:“Who owns the customer?” Is it Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Product Development, PR, Investor Relations, Finance? Answer: is it is everyone’s responsibility to engage with customers. Not every group is an order taker or customer service helpdesk. But customers have questions, ideas that span entire life cycle.

Avoid the tug of war over who owns the customer. Create (within your company) a customer engagement plan in 3 easy steps:

1.     Listen and determine what is Relevant – What are the customers discussing today? (packaging, rude retail employees, return policy, friendly environmental practices, etc). Note: Not  all conversations are negative.

2.     Engage – Pick one topic that is relevant, find that passionate employee that is savvy on the topic and unleash the passionate employee to join and create online conversations. Not sure how to create online conversations, 3 easy ways to get started.

3.     Wash, Rinse, Repeat with steps 1 and 2. You will evaluate success on your first topic. What should be your second topic? (again, listen to determine relevance).

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48 Responses

  1. Pingback : antseyeview.com - Customers Rock!

  2. Pingback : Guest Blogger: Avoid the Customer Tug of War [ Customers Rock! ]

  3. Eeesh, I don’t even like the premise of “who owns the customer” question. Yes, I know it comes up in internecine organizational tugs-of-war but gosh, it hurts my stomach …

    #1, the customer “owns” herself. He or she or it (if it’s a company we’re talking about) should determine who they want to work with, often various departments and individuals depending on the customer’s need at the moment. But I don’t think a customer wants to be “owned” by any one or any department. After all, the customer is the one footing the bill and paying the salaries; they deserve more respect and appreciation than ownership conveys. We exist to serve customers, not to fight over who serves and speaks and engages with them.

    #2, it’s everyone who should be engaging in some way, shape, or form. We should all be focused on helping our customers, delighting them, serving them, responding to them. If we have value to offer, offer it. If not, don’t. So, if the customer has a billing issue, the accounts receivables department. If the customer has a product question or suggestion, maybe product marketing or product development. If it’s a service question or issue: customer service / support. And so on. In other words: everyone, in their correct area of expertise and authority.

    By the way: love those folks at Ant’sEyeView too. Thanks for the provocation… :-)

    Regards,
    Mark Yolton

  4. In my IT experience, ‘who owns the customer’ was a contentious question. It did tend to inspire the entire organization to develop a client by client plan for communicating different types of information. Sales was handled by the Account Manager, technical issues went through the PM, smaller text and placement issues went through the CSR. Still, we all got on the same page before any one of us reached out to the client. In the end, we all ‘owned’ the client.

    Thanks for this post!
    MAS

  5. I don’t like the sound of ‘who owns the customer’ either. ‘Who affects the customer the most’ would be probably a better phrasing. Delegating an employee to deal with customers and company’s issues on social media is quite a good idea once you have such a savvy employee 😉

  6. In the midst of rat race competition how do you manage to get your blog noticed? I mean I been trying very hard to bring traffic to my blog but doesent seam to work much any suggestions from you would be helpful?

  7. I would like to track your future posts on customer service category. I was searching some ideas to come up with a resolution as to my queries relating to better treatment guide for satisfying perspective customers.

  8. When did the phrase, “Who owns the customer?” become popular? I don’t like the phrase. I don’t want to be thought of as being owned, nor do I want to think of my customers this way.

    Thanks and God bless.

  9. thanks … very useful info really well for me in particular …. add more and new knowledge that I can take .. always successful and warm greetings from a newbie blogger

    regard: laguterbaru.net

  10. Who owns the customer?” Is it Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Product Development, PR, Investor Relations, Finance? Answer: is it is everyone’s responsibility to engage with customers.

  11. After all, the customer is the one footing the bill and paying the salaries; they deserve more respect and appreciation than ownership conveys. We exist to serve customers, not to fight over who serves and speaks and engages with them.

  12. I have the same opinion with you that client is very significant for our business. In its place we look for new client, it is better to maintain existing customer and construct their faithful to us.
    Regards,
    Waheed Ahmad Khan

  13. I’ve had a lot experiences facing bad customers and good customers. We should really learn about their behavior. If we can do it great, I assure you that you will get high benefit from their loyalty to your company. :)

  14. Interesting topic for me as a businessman who again learned, in my opinion still marketing marketing, automated systems or any sophisticated online marketing media, which plays a role is still the language skills and good dialogue from a marketing to attract buyers to purchase their products.

  15. You need to be gentle with the leads and your customers. Getting emotional or by making comparison wont help it much to retain them but you should give them time and make them to take their own decisions but we should always be on their back guiding them to feel that they matter for us and we are hearing them.

  16. as we know that why some customer get angry because once we sold the good to them and if just leave it no have any feedback or we can say that bad customer service. listen to what they complaint is important to have any good relationship.

  17. I think engaging is the upmost important part of Guest blogging. We see this in 2013 @ all of the social platforms coming together within the blogosphere.

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