This rant is a follow-up to the blog post challenging every CEO to, at least once in their career, wrap themselves in a blanket of customer feedback for an entire week. Invest just one week to gain the knowledge necessary to lead a successful customer-centric enterprise.
Please explain to me why companies ignore their customers? I don’t understand.
The business leaders I’ve encountered in my career are not ignorant, disinterested people. They are mostly intelligent, engaged individuals who are trying to build their careers and contribute to the success of their respective companies.
What I don’t understand, given this fertile ground of talent, is why so many businesses — and by extension their leadership — choose, by inaction, to ignore their customers.
I hear the excuses every day.
“It’s not my department. I’ve tried to get X department to engage but they said it wasn’t their role, so nobody does”.
“We just don’t have time. We can’t take on another project.”
“We have the systems in place, but no one is in charge”.
“We can’t change how the product/service is provided so how would engaging with customers matter”?
“After we complete effort XYZ we will be able to consider it”.
This persistent and purposeful decision to ignore customer feedback is not coming from small companies. It’s coming from companies who have the resources to prioritize their investment.
The data is everywhere and easy to spot.
It is easy to find companies with over 10,000, 50,000, even 100,000 1-Star reviews. Not total reviews, but customers who provided the lowest possible rating. What’s amazing is that for many of these brands, there is not a single company response to these disgruntled, yet high engaged customers. Not one “I’m sorry for your experience”. Not one “Please contact us so we can make this right”. Not one “We’re listening and we’re making changes”.
These are publicly traded companies with market capitalizations in the billions of dollars.
What would these companies be worth if they engaged with these customers? If they learned exactly what caused customer dissatisfaction? If they learned what worked in one store but didn’t work in another? What could these companies do if they understood exactly how tens of thousands of people compared them to their closest competitor? What would they be able to do if their customers told them the single most important thing they needed to do to regain their business?
These are not hypothetical questions. The millions of words contained in the customer feedback streams have the answers to every one of these questions. What’s great is that this information is collected for free, and there are incredibly low-cost tools to help mine the data. The systems available even make it easy to craft an enterprise-wide system for listening to and engaging customers.
And you want to know the real kicker? The secret sauce that will generate tens of millions (possibly billions) of dollars in market capitalization for these brands because customers will automatically hold these brands in higher esteem? The incredibly simple act that will keep customers coming back? The brands just need to respond to the reviews.
Of course, it would be best to have the brands use the data to make the changes necessary to be more competitive and ultimately more successful. But absent operational change, all these brands need to do is show customers that they are listening.
It’s easy. It’s cost-effective. It’s impactful. It’s incredibly profitable.
Will they finally get around to it?
Probably not. Why? Because it’s “someone else’s job” or “they need to focus on something else right now”.
I’m so confident that they have something better to do that I’ll make an offer to the first publicly traded company with more than 1000 locations that contacts me in response to this post. I will give this company the research that answers the above questions and a system to manage and respond to reviews FREE FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR.
There, I’ve just removed one more little hurdle. It probably won’t matter.
So, I go back to my original question….Please explain to me why companies ignore their customers?
P.S. Thank goodness for the small and medium-sized business that are actively looking to disrupt industries where entrenched companies have better things to do that engage their customers — and to the few enterprises that “get it”.