Watch Their Eyes

You’re a girl in a bar on a first date with a promising new guy.

The guy says, “I want to know all about you. Tell me everything.”

Hey, nice guy. Sounds promising.

But here’s my dating tip for the day. Watch his eyes.

As you begin to tell him all about yourself, watch his eyes. There are a number of things he could find more interesting than you…

The latest hockey score on the TV above the bar. The girl in the corner who’s downing her fifth martini. The brand names of the beers on tap. His fingernails.

As soon as his eyes wander, you know that there is a disjoint between what he says – “I want to hear all about you,” and what he’s doing – looking elsewhere.

Same thing happens online.

Your average e-commerce site says, “You, dear customer, are the center of our universe. Everything we do is all about you. We are customer-centric, customer-obsessed and customer-focused.”

Nice spiel. But watch ‘their eyes.’

Because the management of your average e-commerce site likely has wandering eyes.

Here are a few things the CEO and VP Customer Services might be looking at…

  • “No, we can’t spend any more time and money on customer service. The VC guys are hammering us to acquire NEW customers. We need the numbers! I don’t care if they come back or not – I just need the eyeballs!”

  • “We need a more effective customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Interacting with customers is getting way too time-consuming.”
  • “Who’s that new IT guy we’re hiring? Can’t he take care of customer service? There must be a technological solution to this.”
  • “What do you mean, he wants $120,000 plus options? He’s only 22 and has no experience whatsoever!”

The thing is – there’s a bit of a conflict between a fast-moving young industry like e-commerce and the concept of genuine customer service and relationship development.

There’s so much happening, so many changes, so many pressures, so much competition – it’s hard to remain clearly focused on any one thing.

And the pace is relentless.

The outcome of distractions and relentless pace?

Poor customer service.

The lip-service and the promises remain. But the execution of customer service doesn’t appear to be making great progress.

What’s the solution?

First, I think it would be helpful to recognize that customer service is not a technological function. You can no more automate it than you can automate that date at the bar.

Implicit in the basic notion of customer service is the need for a real person to interact with customers, one at a time.

We all know how annoying it is when we ring up a bricks and mortar store with a question and are stuck in a maze of voice mail options. It’s frustrating. And it’s damaging to the relationship with the customer.

Same thing online. You can’t automate a human process and expect a positive result.

Can this be fixed? Sure it can, but only if the commitment and cash comes from the very top of the company. The CEO has to be committed to real customer service and be prepared to invest a lot of money in it.

The focus has to be serious, so that the eyes don’t wander.

Because wandering eyes are a dead giveaway that you’re really not that interested in your customers at all.

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