Are You Scared of Your Customers? Time to Grow Up!

Author Bio

Author Bio

I am not, by nature, an angry person. I’m not the most laid-back woman in the world either, but I don’t find myself really cross very often. This morning, however, an email caught my eye and it honestly made my blood boil. I’m probably being over-sensitive, but bear with me.

I received an email with the subject line “Customer Power” which caught my eye. I spend my life talking to customer experience (CX) practitioners about every aspect of CX, so naturally I was interested in this email. I clicked on it to find it was an invitation to attend a CX conference next year. I shan’t name the organizers.

The main theme of the email was come to their conference and hear how top brands are “wrestling the power back from the customer”. Ouch. Seriously? Is that what companies are trying to do? Are organizations so power-crazed that they have to hold supremacy over their customers? Can they only be successful by beating them into submission or manipulating them into acting in a pre-determined way? 

What about all the mission statements around customer-centricity? Is it just window dressing? A way to make customers feel warm and fuzzy while companies go around doing business as usual?

Consider also that this is a message going to out CX professionals during the “season of giving”. Again, ouch.

Business simply cannot afford to buy into this mindset. Customer relationships – whether in the B2B or B2C worlds should never be about who holds the power. They need to be about mutual trust and benefit.

In fact, in my opinion (feel free to argue with me on Twitter!) is that trust must be a critical focus for businesses in a range of industries. It formed a large part of the conversations we had at our recent Insurance Summit in New York. This is actually a great area for CX teams to focus on in 2019 because so many of the building blocks of trust - confidence, price, loyalty, ease and relationship – are areas where CX can have a huge influence.

Customers have more knowledge, choice, guidance and – yes power – than ever before. But rather than running scared and diving into a bunker to take cover, mature companies must accept this and just do better. Having a well-informed base of customers actually enables smart businesses to elevate the conversation, talking to clients on an equal footing as a partner. This means being able to better meet their needs in future, and helping to stay competitive.

Embrace the new world of democratized knowledge. Because “duck and cover” isn’t a strategy, it’s a cop out.