I am currently in the midst of a double whammy in terms of personal reflection.
On a slightly more superficial level, we’ve just had our New Year celebrations, so I am currently working on some personal resolutions for 2018 that fall into the usual lifestyle category of weight loss and going to the gym more. However, at a deeper level, in precisely 1 week, I turn 40.
As such, I must confess I am entering a period of slightly deeper personal reflection, which includes questions such as:
Where am I currently in my life and where do I want to get to?
How can I make I make these best years count for something that my future self with be satisfied with?
After all, my take on what solace there may be to getting older is the opportunity to look back and be proud of what you’ve achieved. As such, I’d probably better get my skates on, as there is lots that needs doing!
One thing, I’ve already noticed about getting older, is that I see more significance to smaller things – one such example being customer service or CX as it is increasingly tagged. On the one hand, this could be something to do with becoming fussier as one gets older and more discerning, though I think the reason for this runs deeper than that.
As we get older I believe we value the experiences we have more, because we realise there’s less time, so we have to make more of what we have. When we are in our youth, we feel as though we can expend our time like water. Hitting 40 makes me realise, increasingly, that time is our most precious asset and we cannot afford to waste it.
As such an experience such as going for a meal with loved ones or going on holiday with your partner becomes more special and our expectations are therefore enhanced as we want to get things right. Whilst I believe we become more patient and philosophical as we age, I also believe that, internally, we place a higher expectation on our experiences offering something memorable and meaningful in a positive way. Typically, when it comes to the 2 examples I provided, such as a meal or holiday, this would require a good standard of customer service to ensure this is this case.
As a case in point, I have recently returned from my Christmas holiday back in the UK, a large proportion of which I spent with my father, who is entering the twilight years of his life and is, sadly, partially sighted as a result. Given I am an expat and live on the other side of the planet, despite my best efforts, we don’t get to spend too much time together, so the 2 weeks we have together was extremely valuable to us both. One incident that took place truly illustrates this point – on one evening, whilst we were visiting a historic city center in the north of England, which is something my father particularly enjoys, we decided to head for dinner. We agreed we would like Italian food and true to form, I used a well known online travel guide to advise us on the best venue based on ratings. One venue, in particular, stood out, so we headed straight there.
To cut a long story short, we were utterly disappointed to the point that we actually left the restaurant before our food came and this had everything to do with the poor service, way we were spoken to, and, quite frankly, the lack of consideration for my father’s condition, given his sight issue. Based on any rational assessment, I expect most folks would have done the same.
I can share now that the feelings of disappointment ran deeper than simply a dinner that wasn’t up to scratch. This experience genuinely disrupted an important time for myself and my father to enjoy an experience together. Whilst the restaurant itself may not have known the significance, the point I am making is that any business that deals with a consumer audience, in particular, has to accept this reality. If we are in business, it is our duty to treat every customer with appropriate respect, because you never know the wider story and how a bad experience makes your customer feel.
In a similar, related vein, we recently had a new joiner on our Malaysia team at Salt, who is new to recruitment and is very quickly identifying with the type of challenges involved in dealing with a consumer audience. I might add, she is doing particularly well and I was deeply heartened over the Christmas period when she sent me an email from one of the first candidates she placed since being with us. In this email, the candidate thanked her for all the hard work she put into supporting the process and that, since he had been out of work for a number of months now and is a recent father, being able to return to work is a true blessing. After 15 years in the industry, this kind of update still brings a very strong sense of personal satisfaction and it was great to hear how the consultant in question felt as though she had positively touched someone’s life in a meaningful way just by doing her job well.
So there’s my reflection as the new year dawns – CX is not just about doing your job based on the job description. It is about realising the wider context of the customer audience you are supporting and the fact that every person comes with a story. Truly good service comes from wanting to create a connection with your customer, leave a positive impression for time to come and, in a manner of speaking, find meaning in your interaction. Every customer experience provides this opportunity; it’s a very good idea to get this right and a potential disaster from a business point of view to get it wrong as it’s hard to win repeat customers and very easy to lose them for good.
Suffice to say, back to my example of the restaurant I visited with my father, I was quick to update the social media platform offering all the positive reviews I mentioned with their first bad one!