If you love customers, set them free

photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/
photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/thomashawk/

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Do all of these things make your blood boil? When I first used the internet, I was amazed at the ability of computers to talk to other computers over long distance. I also marveled that email and later voice and video connected you like magic to your friends. And I was really disappointed to find out that most companies don’t actually want to talk to their customers.

Why are companies not listening?

There are a few who are: Amazon.com just launched “Mayday”, a system to allow instant tech support on your Kindle Fire device – this is a great idea! But try to get in touch with most banks, insurance agencies, or other bureaucracies and you’re likely to end up in phone tree hell.
The only conclusion that I can draw from the behavior of these other businesses is that they don’t really want to hear what you have to say, and that your voice doesn’t matter.

Your voice does matter. Dear companies (and CEOs and marketers): if you love your customers, set them free. Listen to their complaints and agree to feel a little discomfort. You might have to tell them, “I’m sorry. We made a bad decision, and I can’t make it better for you right now. And here’s what I can do for you.” Because in the age of social, where customers are always communicating among themselves, companies who want to provide great service need to respond and improve their relationship with the customer.

Without the customer, there is no business.

If you truly love customers, set them free. Let them leave. And find out why they are leaving. Customers want you buy what you’re selling for a reason. And if your reason no longer works for them, or they need something else, finding out what is wrong and understanding and solving the root cause is as important as saving that customer.

So don’t make it hard to leave simple transactional items like email lists. Do have a conversation when a customer is frustrated enough to want to take their business elsewhere. And learn from the experience so that more customers don’t feel the same way. When you solve the problem for the customer who wants to leave, they will come back. The customer will come back because your product is better, your service is better, and your overall experience is better. And because you listened to them and let them know it.


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