Woody Allen was right.
It’s unfortunate how often I’m disappointed when I try a new service provider (restaurant, other retailer, hotel, etc.). In some cases, I continue to be disappointed with the vendor, but I stay because it’s too much effort to switch (phone or cable company). My disappointment is the result of the vendors’ failure to meet my basic expectations.
Shouldn’t basic expectations be easy enough to meet? I think mine are reasonable, as they’re typically set by the advertising and promotions that these companies bombard me with. Much of these companies’ external branding promotes the importance of their customers, their friendliness, their great deals, etc. They should be able to meet the expectations that they set! But the reality, in most cases, is that they can’t live up to their own hype.
So why are companies’ brand promises and expectations not being delivered where it counts – at the front line? There are probably a multitude of reasons, but I believe the top three are these:
- Not investing in managers: Many front-line managers are responsible for their teams delivering the promised experience to customers, and they simply don’t know how to lead and engage their teams. It’s not always their fault. Their companies often don’t invest in managers so they can truly understand their role, and they don’t offer managers the knowledge and tools they need to deliver results.
- Missing a customer-focused culture: Most companies lack an authentic customer experience culture at the leadership level. These leaders talk a good game, but many are more focused on short-term financial results instead of authentically delivering on the customer experience that their brand promises to customers.
- Lack of alignment at the leadership level: If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that many Chief Marketing Officers and the Vice Presidents of Operations don’t realize they work for the same company! I think this is an underlying theme that simply helps explain why companies make promises to consumers to lure them into becoming customers, and then fail to deliver on those expectations.
If 90% of life is simply showing up, companies should notice how their employees are showing up. Are they authentically delivering on the brand promise that customers expect at the most basic level? This applies to both in-store and online service. Once organizations figure this out, they’ll be amazed at the customer loyalty they drive. It’s not always about delivering that extraordinary experience. Ninety percent of the time, it’s about showing up.