The perfectly imperfect company !
The perfectly imperfect company !
The digital shift has changed everything. For those who thought that this shift was purely a technological revolution didn’t notice that it was in fact a cultural revolution.
It’s a cultural revolution since it challenges us to review almost every one of our beliefs. The biggest shift in this revolution is the change from a vertical to a horizontal communication relationship. A new horizontal relationship between customers and companies, between suppliers and companies, and within the company itself. The consequence of this “shift” is that we are witnessing a reinvention of the relationship between companies and their environment.
One dimension of this shift is, the more or less, nice ways customers speak of companies on social media. Yesterday, customer’s complaints or demands remained confidential, confined only to his or her close circle of collaborators, friends, or family. Now, by their very nature of the media are more powerful and viral.
Today, each consumer has become a media in their own right. They can mobilize their community, call out a company, judge it, or threaten it. With a simple click of the mouse, a comment can be either flattering or devastating.
According to a 2016 study by Capgemini, a satisfied customer shares their experience 3 times. A customer who is not satisfied shares their experience 10 times! Even worse, 96 % of dissatisfied customers don’t share their experience directly with the company …
In the face of this new conversational and technological shift, companies have no choice; they have to accept the horizontal conversation. To accept this cultural shift it is to adopt a new paradigm of listening, of dialogue, of finding solutions together. To accept this shift is not to think that you have all the answers but rather to exchange with other and develop positive, common, and constructive solutions.
For example, one morning a manufacturer of agricultural machinery discovers that customers are publicly sharing, on social media, that they were sold bad machinery that rusts only after one year of use. In response, the company develop a video tutorial explaining how to effectively clean and maintain the machine after each use, thus avoiding the problem. Farmers did not hesitate to share the video with their network.
The “imperfect” company turns criticisms into opportunity, improving their offer, the customer experience, and their brand. This “imperfect” company is confirmed by this quotation:
“Your most dissatisfied customers are your best source of learning.”
Companies that understand this cultural conversation shift have moved from a vertical conversation to a horizontal one grounded in grateful listening. This new, conversational approach requires an openness and a profound realignment within the company, one that truly put the customer at the centre of everything.
The original paradigm that stated that access = power. Companies used to have the luxury of patronizing a dissatisfied customer, protected by the fact that the customer did not have access to media. That time has passed.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to destroy it”
In reality, companies that have integrated this knowledge into their culture have a robust reputational lead. Customers who feel like they have been listened to and recognized tend to forgive faster.
Putting oneself in a customer’s shoes, trying to truly understand the reasons behind their dissatisfaction, and offering them concrete solutions with empathy and caring are some of the founding pieces of this new paradigm that goes beyond a customer service ploy. We are at the heart of a cultural shift between the customer and the brand, regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C.
We are now in the era of H2H or Human to Human.
Companies must now act as human beings in the most fundamental meaning of term. This means integrating active and constructive listening skills that will in turn help it to improve on its mission.