itís the little things that really drive you crazy.
Small things like 23 toll-free numbers to a single
company. Which one do you use? Or what about those
ATM service charges, which cost anywhere from
a buck fifty to three dollars, that financial
institutions conveniently charge so you can get
access to your money. Remember the days
when ATMs were going to save us money because
the bank would need fewer tellers if people did
their own banking? Yes, itís the little things
that drive us over the edge.
guess thatís why when I read Mike Hammerís book,
The Agenda, I immediately connected with
his concept of becoming easy to
do business with (ETDBW).
In a nutshell, Hammer suggests that todayís clients
have grown more sophisticated and are savvier
than those of yesteryear. The new client demands
a working relationship that is inexpensive and
effortless. This does not mean the client demands
your services be inexpensive
that the cost of doing business with you be exceedingly
low in cost.
This really makes sense. After all, the cost of
our service or product is only a fraction of
the actual cost. Once you factor in all the billing
phone calls because invoices are sent out in an
ambiguous manner, the time spent with inexperienced
or lackluster sales representatives or professionals,
the amount of time it takes in voice mail to actually
get to a person, and the investment of learning
how to interface with the company in the
first place, itís no wonder clients are getting
wiser. Increasingly, this is a competitive strategy
to manage performance across companies.
how do companies find themselves floating as an
disconnected from the way their clients view them?
It all starts innocently enough. First, the company
divides into departments to better manage performance
or focus more intently on departmental goals.
Perhaps they move from departments to being considered
a ďprofit center.Ē Now, itís the departmentsí
responsibilities to turn a profit. Soon, these
departments are vying for open resources and shutting
out other department requests because it doesnít
ďaddĒ to their overall vision. And then, before
long, the department only relates to its departmental
goals, the company only relates to itself from
its internal goals, and the clientsí view of the
company is dust in the wind.
where do you go from there? The first step is
to take a day
to walk in your clientsí shoes. How do they think
of your services? Do they have to dig to find
the services or products they need from you?
Does it take more than five phone transfers to
get a live human being? Is your billing process
so mysterious that from month to month clients
arenít sure what they are paying for? And
what about appointments? Do they trek to your
office or do you take the wide loop to theirs?
simply isnít enough to give the client what you
think they want. You must find out what you can
do to make it easier for them to do business with
you. Then, you must commit to implementing procedures,
processes, and paradigms that deliver these to
consistently and profitably. After all, your clients
want you to be as successful as you help them
makes a great point: If your ways of doing business
are built around how your company operates, then
your customers pay the price, and ultimately you
will as well. You exist to solve customersí problems.
Customers do not exist to do business with you.
you put together a client advisory board or conduct
a simple client service survey, the effort you
put into this important task promises to pay you
back in spades. So, the next time you are at an
ATM paying yet another fee, think about the little
things that are driving your clients crazy
then commit to change them.
W. Turnage is a regular columnist for CPA Magazine.
He writes often about consulting solutions. This
article appeared in the December 2002 issue. Learn
more about CPA Magazine at www.cpamag.com.