As a CEO, I always strive to know who my customers are and what it is that they need.
Let’s start with who my customers are. For me, I get the pleasure of having internal and external customers– employees and buyers. The ultimate goal of the company is to attract and satisfy the buyers; under-promise and over-deliver and most importantly, to over-communicate. With more than 50,000 customers, I need some help, and my internal customers (employees) are where I focus a lot of attention.
When I look back and reflect on anything that has happened negatively between the company and a buyer or between the company and an employee, more often than not it relates back to a failure to communicate. Even when the issue is unrelated to communications–for example the return of a defective product where the product is the problem–the real issue generally boils down to a breakdown in dialogue.
Two real life examples to highlight this are:
1. A customer has ordered a product on voipsupply.com and received an email confirming the order. The product ships the next day and a tracking email is sent to the customer. Unfortunately, the spam filter got in the way and the customer never received the email. Since the customer ordered through a live sales associate, their tracking information is not available through the web store. The customer, expecting the product overnight, does not receive the product and begins to get frustrated. The customer then has to take time out of their day, find our phone number, call customer service and ask for tracking. This is a very common occurrence with all ecommerce companies.
VoIP Supply, hearing the concern from customers, has instituted a process within the customer service department where all customers receive not only an email with their invoice and tracking number, but also a live telephone call with verbal delivery of their tracking information, and a notice to check their inbox and spam filter to ensure that they receive the information they need. Email is great, live conversation is better.
2. An employee is hired based on their experience and is expected to complete the tasks detailed within their job description. Relying on their past knowledge and experiences, the new hire goes about their business, completing the task and moving on. The manager of this new person was expecting the task to be completed just as the last person did it (or better) and not how the new hire completed the task previously. After a day, week or even a month, friction builds as the manager is expecting something other than what is being given and the new hire is not feeling appreciated for “picking it up” and getting the tasks done on time.
In a rapidly expanding company such as a fast paced start-up, this can happen quite frequently. Taking the time to document the expected processes, provide training before throwing the new employee into the fire, working side-by-side until the expected results are delivered and due praise is handed out, creates an ideal workplace where everyone wins and results are abundant. Failure to do so creates friction, communication breakdowns, and an overall poorly performing employee, department and possibly the company as a whole.
We (VoIP Supply) and I personally have been guilty of both, recognize both and are aggressively acting to correct and prevent such issues. Growing a business is difficult and there is often a feeling of “not enough time in the day.” When your day is spent putting out internal and external fires because you did not prepare and communicate, the feeling is valid and exhausting. Taking the time now to document, train and inspect will create much happier customers and a much more rewarding business experience. Talking to your customers, listening to their concerns and needs and acting immediately shows an understanding of the situation and the intent to correct it while preventing it.
Actions are important and are a critical part of the initial reaction to the needs expressed by the customer. More importantly than the action is to understand that communication is not just an action if it is to be successful. Adopting communication as a mindset, part of you and part of your business will provide long term results.
While to some it is mere semantics, there is a vast difference between “I communicated that…” and “I communicate…” VoIP Supply’s mindset is to communicate, always and excessively, both internally and externally.