Back in 2009, I blogged about how lack of client responsiveness led to a difficult experience trying to make an online purchase from the U.S. arm of the mega-company Costco. Essentially, the company (at least back then, hopefully not now) was driven by its systems rather than the needs of its customers. I was once again reminded of that situation with two recent experiences which gave rise to the topic of today’s blog … which is a question – Are you easy to work with? And I don’t necessarily mean just as an individual, but also as a department, a division, or even a company? As a leader, you have an area and scope of responsibility and my question relates to that as well – do your clients, customers, co-workers find you easy to work with?
Here are the two experiences that got me thinking about this question. The first happened to a professional colleague who wanted to hire a service provider, but had to jump through hoops to even talk to this person. First my colleague filled out a short inquiry form on the service provider’s website. Then the person wrote back and asked her to complete another longer form to further define what was needed. Next, she was sent to a site to book an appointment for a free 30-minute consultation. But … the first available slot that fit into both their schedules was three weeks later. My colleague wanted to hire this person (she came highly recommended) but getting to talk to her was just too much effort. My colleague moved on to another provider.
The second incident happened to me. I called my telecom service provider to obtain assistance with a technical problem on my smartphone. It took me 3 minutes and 14 seconds just to navigate the phone menus before I actually got to the correct “department” and then I was on hold for another 56 seconds before the phone was answered by a live person. Whether or not my technical problem was solved is irrelevant (it wasn’t!), but should it really take me 3 minutes and 14 seconds to hunt down the correct department in the first place?
In both these cases, the process was set up for the ease of the vendor, not the consumer. Sure, getting potential clients to define their needs in writing up front makes it easier for the service provider, but it puts the workload on the customer! Sure, having extensive phone menus means that it’s more efficient for the telecom company, but finding my way through a multitude of repetitive phone options certainly wasn’t good use of my time!
Whatever product or service you provide, your success will come from making the lives of your clients and customers easier. This is true even if you have internal clients. Are your processes and systems setup to help your clients, or do they in fact hinder? Are you easy to work with? C’mon, share your honest responses in our Comments section.