Peekaboo – or can your customers find you? Manners and communication

In the past weeks I have travelled to Berlin, Paris and now London. I have worked from each location, enjoyed the unique perspective each city provides, and experienced varying degrees of customer service. These experiences form the basis of today’s blog.

Topics for today’s blog are:

– Peekaboo – or how easy is it for your customer to find you?
– The not so gentle reminder
– Through the culture filter
– Launching a webinar series – first webinar will be on data analytics 2.0

Peekaboo – or how Easy is it for Your Customer to Find you?

When you make it hard for the customer to contact you, the customer may be tempted to find solace elsewhere. In my last newsletter I highlighted how hard it is to get through to customer services using a chatbot. This week I take a step back and share how hard it is to find the contact channel. In recent attempts to find information on various companies I have observed the following:

  1. Store locations are often hard to find on websites
  2. Store phone numbers are rarer than gold dust
  3. If you do find a phone number, the international country code is usually missing, this is an issue for callers using phones registered in other countries
  4. Store phone numbers, even when listed as belonging to a single location, usually go through to a single call centre that then has to connect you
  5. Frequently, pop-up ads obscure the main website’s content, forcing me to move to a competitor website

Thinking about this in the context of Medical Affairs and Medical Information made me wonder whether Medical Information is perhaps sometimes undervalued, simply because stakeholders don’t know what the team provides or if they do know, they cannot access the content. Are you your company’s best kept secret?

Answer the following questions to find out.

  1. Is it easy for new customers to contact you?
    • How long does it take them to find your contact information online?
  2. Have you identified your internal and external stakeholder groups?
  3. Do your internal and external stakeholders know:
    • How to contact you?
    • What services you provide?
    • How to access your services?
    • What your value proposition is?
  4. Do you know what your value proposition is?
  5. If you generate standard content for use beyond Medical Information
    • Do customers know that it exists?
    • Do they know where to find the content?
  6. If you analyse your Medical Information inquiries
    • Do you share that information?
    • Did you get stakeholder input to identify what metrics and insights are of value?
    • Do you regularly engage stakeholders to understand their needs?
    • Do you monitor your stakeholders’ satisfaction with the value you provide?

Key take-away: Doing a great job is not enough. Knowing your value is not enough. Your customers need to know what you do, how to contact you and how to access the value you provide.

The not so Gentle Reminder

In Berlin I met the mother of a famous German actress. She told me that after the last curtain of every play her daughter acts in, the daughter sends the producer a hand-written note on parchment paper thanking the producer for the opportunity to work with him. The mother told me proudly “I taught my children that good manners are the world’s best business card”.

Sadly, good manners are now rarer than hen’s teeth. I receive daily emails via LinkedIn from people who want to help me with lead generation, help me improve my website, improve my SEO rating, help design apps for me or resource headcount for me. The list is interminable and the emails unmanageable. I have given up politely writing back to say that I have no interest in the service that was offered to me, unless the writer is clearly addressing me personally, and I am not just being mass-mailed to.

Consequently, I am now the recipient of daily follow-up emails, the text is frequently a variation of the following, which I received today: “Hi, Kindly treat this as a gentle follow up mail as I was wondering if you have gone through my previous mail, Please let me know your views so that we can take this forward”.

While this type of email is now standard practice, I don’t believe it can ever be effective.

Recommendations for communication: 1) don’t pester people 2) don’t use hi in formal emails 3) use people’s names 4) check punctuation 5) never use the term a gentle follow-up, it’s one of the most passive aggressive terms I have ever come across.

Through the Culture Filter

A recent US American visitor to the UK wrote enthusiastically about the fact that English people queue and that taxi drivers thank you if you tip them.

During my recent trip to Berlin, with a US American friend, our waiter didn’t take our drinks order for half an hour, didn’t lay the table, so that when the food came, we had to go hunt down the cutlery. He put the plates down at the end of the table, so that we had to get up to retrieve them, as we couldn’t reach them from our seats. He brought a jug of hot chocolate at the end of dinner, but with no cup. By the end of the evening, we were in stitches, laughing as tears streamed down our faces, wondering whether there was a camera filming us.

Luckily the food was excellent, and the floor manager was wonderful. She kept trying to compensate for her colleague’s shoddy service. At the end of the evening, my friend paid the bill. At that point, the waiter seemed to take notice of us for the first time, asking us “Where are you from?”. My friend said, “I am American”. She didn’t leave him a tip. The waiter looked at her, looked at the bill, pointed at it and said, “The service charge is not included”. I don’t think he knew what to make of our giggles.

English cab drivers are grateful if you tip them because they don’t expect to be tipped, necessarily. In the US tips are an integral part of people’s wages, whereas in other countries they are not. Hence, in the US a tip is expected whereas in England it is appreciated.

Americans are known to leave generous tips, however, this is not, as our waiter seemed to think, a default setting.

Key reminder: you cannot assess the behaviour of individuals with a different cultural background using your own culture’s frame of reference, not when travelling and not in business.

Launching a Webinar Series – First Webinar will be on Data Analytics 2.0

Next year I am launching my webinar series. The first webinar will be in early February. I will be joined by a partner who provides solutions for companies in the data analytics space. Some of the topics we will address include systems, processes, stakeholder engagement, when to use AI, when not to use AI, and how to collaborate with others in your company to make the most of what you have. I will also address how to approach systematic data capture, taxonomy and ontology.

If there are any specific topics you are interested in for my webinar series, do let me know, what you want to hear about.

I hope my blog provides you with some useful insights and, as ever, I look forward to hearing your thoughts. And if you have a challenging project or would like to discuss coaching to help you achieve that next level, please reach out for an informal chat.

Best wishes

Isabelle C. Widmer

Photo by Chris Greenhow on Unsplash