We live in the most competitive business environment the world has ever seen. Capitalism has invaded cultures that had fought wars based on its evils. From free trade coffee to banking, the consumer sits on the throne of choice. With all of this common knowledge, why in the heck do companies continue to make it so damn hard to do business with them.
You know exactly what I’m talking about, phone trees where the discovery of an actual human is like the Goonies finding One Eyed Willies treasure, self serve registers at the store where the scanner recently thought my Honeycrisp apple (the Ribeye steak of the apple kingdom) was a box of Honeycrisp cereal, which then required a checker to fix the issue defeating the entire purpose of this business convenience . There are doctor office visits where you have to fill out the same form EVERY TIME you visit, even though you haven’t changed your insurance carrier. No, I still don’t have Restless Leg Syndrome.
Many of my blog posts are inspired by recent “real life” experiences and this is no exception.
Our Austin home, like a vast sea of others, was damaged during the recent floods and hail storms. Our FANTASTIC insurance carrier sent out a wonderful adjustor who spent over 3 hours going over our home, noting damage that has missed our scrutiny and created a comprehensive insurance claim. He even printed a check for the first half of the damage right there in his car. Simple, powerful and elegant service.
The check was issued from the 3rd largest insurance company in the US and drawn on the largest bank in the world. When we went to our bank to deposit the check, they refused to take it as it was over the amount they accept when a check is issued for an insurance issue. HUH? WHAT? I want to give you a bag of money and you don’t want it? Aren’t you in the business of taking peoples money? Look, if you’re worried, hold on to it and don’t honor it until it clears. No worry on our part as the roofers won’t start for three weeks. You can play the float and send our money overseas to invest in short term rice futures. They said; sorry, but it’s our policy. We do all of our banking, personal and business at this bank and I would venture to say we’re great customers. Still, no. I asked our banking officer if I could talk to the manager. He confirmed the policy to the point of turning his computer monitor around for me to read three pages of corporate speak. I said, unless there is a car chase or a gun fight in that text, I have no interest in entering the apparently nonsense kingdom of your company. I told them, that despite their wonderful attempt to explain their policy I would find it hard to continue doing business with them, when there are dozens of banks that would gladly take my bag of money. I asked if I was the first person to suffer this baffling policy and they said, no, with the size of the storms and the extent of the damage we have had a lot of similar encounters (you mean problems). Yet, here I sit with no way out. We will be establishing a new banking relationship.
I recently bought a car and wanted to pay cash. Simple transaction. There is the car, we agree on the price, here is the money and I should be saying “goodbye”, driving off in a new vehicle. But, no, I had to wait for a series of forms to be completed and the finance guy to come out and visit with me. HUH? WHAT? I don’t need the finance guy. I have a bag of money I want to give you for a car and you are in the business of taking money and giving people cars. Yes, we know but he has a few additional forms. 30 minutes later, I was still sitting there, making small talk with the salesperson. I took out my iPhone and set it for a 5 minute countdown and explained to the earnest salesperson, when this alarm goes off, I am walking out the door, because you see, I know the difference between want and need. Miraculously, I was sitting in my car with 90 seconds to spare.
It’s time for a change of perspective. Instead of making it hard to do business with you, you should be making it hard for your clients to STOP doing business with you. They should WANT to talk to you. They should be a choir of praise. Ask most clients why they LIKE doing business with you and your company and somewhere in their narrative they will say, “Mary makes it so easy.” Look at your business processes and discover the LIKE formula, why do people really LIKE to do business with you? Once defined, look for the advantage the LIKE’s give you and create strategic leverage. People like our initial approach to projects. After our first call, we create a storyboard that gives an overview of our ideas. The client then can decide if our ideas fit their problem or opportunity. Where are your LIKES?
I’ll bet it’s NEVER about how hard it is to give you my bag of money!