What if I am having problems connecting with my Customers?
I got asked this the other day by a colleague who was quizzing me on my knowledge. We were doing a course together and sharing our perspectives on our work. Here is what I said.
Whether a business is small, medium or large and came to me with that question. I would need to know a few things before answering it fully. In this instance, it wasn’t a niche issue, so I would start with:
- What are they presently doing? This question would be in my mind and would get asked, to get a sense of what their present system, service delivery and products are.
- I would ask for a rundown of events leading to this situation. At one time everything would be working well. I need to know how and when it started to decline, to ascertain the beginning of the problem.
- Because I am a story consultant, my focus would be on their messaging, delivery, and their customer’s journey with them.
- If customer engagement is falling, one of the best ways to re-engage is to look at the story that is being told.
Within this context, I am also looking at how serious they are to make the change. I need to find out – is this a sticking plaster situation? Or are they serious about making a transformation from where they are to where they want to be.
The question is – how much is it hurting them? How bad is the situation?
The reason for doing this analysis is to work out what I can offer, that will make a difference, or even if I am the right person for the job. So far, so normal. The shift for me will always be to do with the heart of any buisness, which is its story.
The Beating Heart
The Story gives a business life. A lackluster story will not be a powerful motivator. It will not produce a good customer interface. As a business owner you will feel the drag. The drag factor means energy and motivation are not high and your customers will feel and know this. They won’t want to engage.
A business may have perfect systems in place, a fabulous product, but if it isn’t conveyed confidently, and with love (yes I said that) and passion, it is lacklustre.
Some businesses just want a sticking plaster.
This could be for a number of reasons. Time, resources, money may mean they know they need to attend to it – but not just now. I would also suggest if this is the case, it’s not yet hurting the business enough. They want a quick makeover.
For some change is definitely needed.
They know it and they are willing to take the necessary steps. This means looking in more detail at their messaging. Matching it to their business. Seeing what the aspirations of the business are, and looking at the past, the business values, the essential focus of the business product or service, to get to the heart of the story.
A total transformation may take 6 months or longer depending upon what is involved. Usually this means everything from systems, to delivery to product presentation to the message. The shift in perspective is what needs to happen first. Without that, the other changes cannot occur successfully.
Whilst all this is happening, I am looking at the story of the business.
Do they have this beating heart in place?
Is everyone on board with it?
How do their systems, products, services and culture serve their story?
How well are they telling their story?
Who are they telling it too?
Sometimes, all that is required are a few tweaks to the message, image and presentation. It can mean getting on the phone and speaking to customers directly, without bomabarding them, to find out what has happened. Such feedback is essential. And sometimes it is the full monty. A strip down and a rebuild is required.
There are times when the story hasn’t emerged at all. I listen for it, hear it, see it and say,
‘Do you realise you have a fantastic story here?’ And offer a reflection on what they are saying.
People can hide behind their words and images
This means they are not really telling the story. Assisting them to find it and see it is part of what I do. My job is to show them what that story is, see if they are ready to take it on, and then help them to do so.
The difference that makes, is between ordinary china and the finest porcelain.
It has more refinement to it.
It shines out and you can engage with it more readily.
It feels right. Something has clicked.
Then you can start to craft the story, to understand its place in your business, so it works for you and with you on customer engagement. When I get asked the question – What if I am having problems connecting with my customers?
My first response will be to check out their story.
To find out whether it has heart, or is hiding!