This Opening Day, the Customer Is Captain

When the Captain Is Upset, He Speaks for the Team. How Are You Ensuring They Keep Playing for You?

By Robert Zoch, Content Marketing Manager, Customer Journey Solutions, NICE Systems

We’re all familiar with the adage “the customer is always right,” and its most common variant, “the customer is king.” It’s a concise sentiment, clear in purpose for any enterprise: Customers aren’t merely key to business; they are the business. Without customers, you fail, and it is therefore imperative you serve your customer in a manner that pleases them, and entices them to continue the partnership you’ve (hopefully) envisaged between the two of you, mutually beneficial for the long haul.

I would propose another way of looking at your relationship with customers, perhaps less obvious but no less accurate: “The customer is captain.”

According to “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner, a typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers; 96% of customers don’t voice their complaints, and 91% simply never come back.

4%. That’s one in 25.

In Major League Baseball, teams have an active roster of 25 players (for most of the season). Sometimes, a team will choose a “Captain,” a veteran player well-liked and respected in the clubhouse, to more or less serve as the “face” of the team in public matters. Since the retirements of Derek Jeter (of the New York Yankees) and Paul Konerko (of the Chicago White Sox) in 2014, David Wright of the New York Mets has been the lone Captain in the Majors. That frustrated customer who’s just maneuvered his way through your IVR system and is waiting for your customer service agent to pick up the phone? He’s your angry customers’ David Wright. Go ahead; answer it.

Every time David Wright complains about your company, he’s speaking for 24 other customers. When you fail to live up to his expectations, you’re letting the whole team down. And unlike professional ballplayers, they don’t have to wait for free agency to take their business elsewhere. Indeed, most of them are already doing precisely that.

When you implement a comprehensive Voice of the Customer program, you gain a greater understanding of why customers are unsatisfied, and why many of them are walking away. Inevitably, it will bear out that most customer complaints are not merely one-off anomalies, but rather represent real opportunities to improve customer service routines and standards, ensuring fewer unsatisfied customers in the future—and therefore a healthy supply of continued business opportunities.

In this manner, the “customer is captain” in perhaps a more traditional sense. When you hear the Voice of the Customer clearly and perceptively, those insights help you steer the ship away from choppy waters and rocky shores, and towards the business goals you’ve set for yourselves. When heard clearly, the customer is, quite simply, keeping you on course.

So recognize that the next customer who voices a complaint does not merely speak for himself, but for a whole team that’s hungry for a winning experience. And after all: David Wright already helped you bring home the pennant, last year. What are you doing to ensure he remains committed to YOUR team?

Opening Day is this Sunday, and the Mets open their season with a rematch against their 2015 World Series adversaries in Kansas City. To get in gear for your run at the pennant in 2016, check out the play-by-play from NICE Systems and Forrester Research in their presentation, “The Revenue Impact of the Customer Experience,” available right here.