I recall back when one executive decided to get rid of his entire quality organization because they were simply finding too many problems that he felt he already knew about. After that decision, quality tanked along with revenue and profitability, and he eventually was fired. But it showcased the personal danger to someone who focuses on making sure that customer loyalty is a top priority.
In EMC Jim Bampos is the guy who is driving this effort and to say he has a passion for turning customers into an EMC fan base is an understatement. He has appeared tireless in his effort to drive satisfaction and loyalty levels to new highs, and not too surprisingly EMC has discovered that for every point of customer loyalty they get they also gain two points of market share.
This has been a hard fight for him and there are few firms that have people with the kind of focus on turning customers into advocates that EMC has. I think people like Bampos should be recognized as heroes and Im using this column to do that here.
If you want a company to treat you better you have to reward them for doing it. Better support often comes at a cost. But how many of us recognize or reward a firm, a sales rep, or a service technician for going that extra yard to ensure we had a good experience?
One of my co-workers had a problem with an old Dell computer (the hard drive failed). Not only did the rep get him a new drive, he called when the drive arrived and walked him through the replacement and then called after it was done and made sure that everything was working properly. That may not seem like much but it is one hell of a lot more than most of us typically get from a support professional.
How many of us would take the trouble to call up and praise this guy to his boss? In writing this I can remember the times I should have and didnt do this myself. Often we take this extra effort as an entitlement and then wonder why most dont treat us as well.
The same is true of companies. If you want more firms to act as EMC does, you should praise them in private and publically rather than just publically complain when something doesnt go as expected. In addition, if you have a firm that has performed well for you, take that into consideration during a bid. The lowest bidder may have a support cost associated with them you may not want to pay. Apple isnt the cheapest PC vendor by far but they have the strongest customer loyalty and financial performance. I wish more firms would connect these dots.
In the end, companies are what we turn them into. It is our extreme focus on getting the lowest price rather than the best experience that has resulted in the bad customer experiences we often get. If we spent a little more time thanking those that come through for us (and Im talking to myself as much as anyone else) as we do complaining and fighting for the best deal, I think wed enjoy our jobs and lives more. Because what goes around comes around and when it comes to praise it is actually nice to be on the receiving end.