Friday, July 30, 2010

KeFactors Fridays: Why It’s No Longer Your Daddy’s Customer Service

Jeff De Cagna (Principled Innovation LLC) describes it as “the recalibration of society.” What does that mean?

Four forces are changing our world, another page in the story of man (ie, don’t try to fight this).

1. Globalization. What does it mean in human terms? Adult learning expert Elliott Masie illustrates with an anecdote: “I had dinner last night with colleagues from Europe. Most of them spoke four to six languages and most of them did business in many countries. I mentioned a price, and they could very quickly, in their head, translate it into euros, and two or three other currencies. Americans can’t.” Bottom line: Professionals must become truly global executives, not U.S. executives playing on a global stage.

2. Demographic changes. Over 15 years ago Atlanta became a stop for many of the world’s refugees, and I predicted an Ethiopian business coalition would soon become reality. And it has. As refugees and immigrants become entrepreneurs, and technology puts us in touch across barriers of time and space, so have markets changed around us. Bottom line: Serving a local homogeneous customer base is locking yourself out of significant economic opportunities. Local is global.

3. Complexity. Inevitable to pluralistic populations are bouts of turbulence as communities struggle to adjust to one another. One example is the need to learn quickly about other cultural norms and protocols for smoother business transactions: this involves suspending judgment and developing tolerance for ambiguities. Bottom line: Customer service will require alert employees operating under guidelines from a savvy management focus. It’s no longer enough to merely advise, “The customer’s always right.”

4. Customization. Recent TV commercials for consumer products speak to this. Everything from autos to auto insurance is modular, geared for personal customization. Bottom line: The belief that “one size will fit all” is, at the least, very complacent.

This is a time for learning and adaptability. It will only help your bottom line.

No comments: