Excuse Me, Do You Realize That …

Phrases starting with “Excuse Me, Do You Realize That …” may be the cause of more human anguish than any other. This phrase may be completed by any of the following endings:

  • your slip is showing, madam.
  • you have broccoli on your teeth.
  • (to a man, silently giving a downward glance).

You don’t want to be either the speaker or the recipient for any of these, although it may happen to any of us.

It’s tough to give advice to other people. As Peter Drucker said, Help is defined by the recipient. Giving advice seems to suggest a slight superiority however gently and diplomatically it’s done. The recipient would prefer that such advice did not need to be given. The speaker may encounter a violent reaction. In consequence, often the advice is not given and even more unfortunate circumstances result.

That’s what happens with poor customer service. Why complain to someone who can do little about it? So you decide to use the competitive product next time. You may even tell a few friends. The company never realizes the impact that one occurrence may have. If a company really wants to be sure that every customer is satisfied, it’s not enough to just do Active Listening. You’ve got to go out of your way to encourage people to give you comments. Remember their natural human reaction may be to not make a fuss with all the hassle and tension that is caused. This is why such approaches as Mystery Shoppers are useful to really test how your organization is doing. Of course it only makes sense if you’re going to use the results.

It’s happening even more with websites I find. How often do you visit a website and get frustrated? So you click away, vowing never to return. If you had visited their physical office, walked in through the door and immediately walked out again, someone may well question if they’re doing something wrong. If several people do exactly the same thing and immediately walk out within the space of an hour, then panic buttons start to flash. Unless you analyze the traffic to your website, you may never realize how many people are being turned off. Some of those are potential customers, who may now be turned off your company.

Designing websites is not as easy as it looks and there are many ways to make mistakes. As more people switch away from the Internet Explorer browser to other browsers such as Firefox, many more websites are ‘breaking’ and do not appear as they should. So other people may see your website in a different way from the way you are seeing it. You should be vigilant about what may be happening. Try out the Mystery Shopper approach on your own website. Perhaps you will then hear the phrase, “Excuse me, do you realize that your website is broken.” It’s tough to say and it’s tough to hear, but you need to know.

You can also encourage people to get in touch if they find the website doesn’t work as it should. For that you’ve got to make it easy and you must show you really appreciate whatever inputs are received. In particular, you should fix whatever is broken. Your potential customers in turn will show you their appreciation by being more likely to purchase. It should be a no-brainer.

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