Would you risk your job for customers?
Client advocacy is the only choice.
The customer is always right debate. What it means for business.
Obviously, we know how important customers are to our businesses. I mean, come on–how many times have we uttered “The customer is always right” or “Customers are king”? But it’s one thing to say it and another thing to actually do it, day in and day out.
It’s tough to imagine jeopardizing your job for clients when “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” are happening. But I would argue that advocating for them is even more essential today!
What extreme measures would you take for your customers?
Customer service is an important part of any company. But how much do you balance catering to customers’ needs versus making internal decisions that will benefit your company in the long run?
Are you being customer centric when:
- You work in customer service and have a client screaming at you at 7 in the morning?
- You’re a software engineer managing a backlog of 1,000 functionality improvements when a key customer demands their feature request be added to the next sprint?
- The top brass would rather bolster the bottom line at the customers expense?
Unfortunately, all of these scenarios occurred on my watch.
Marketing principle #1: advocate for customers
Even as a young, inexperienced marketer, I believed that what is best for customer is the right thing to do. Customer advocacy has always been my number one marketing principle – even if it means challenging leadership. I was once instructed to keep quiet in a situation that really pushed this marketing principle to its limit.
Shortsighted organization decisions and actions can negatively impact consumers and workers.
You will neglect customer needs if you are too internally focused
Our CEO wanted to move my product’s manufacturing overseas to reduce production costs. With his background in operations, reducing direct product costs and overhead was naturally a priority for him. It is important to note that my current plant was brand-new, a mere minutes from headquarters, and frequently used for VIP customer tours. After much thought and analysis on my part, I informed my general manager that we would lose 5% market share at a minimum and significantly denigrate the brand. We were the market share leaders and customers counted on us. He said to me – I’ll never forget this – “Jessica, you are crazy – that will never happen.” Peculiarly, none of my colleagues were speaking out in support of me. My GM basically told me to keep quiet or else. The CEO closed the U.S. plant, moved it to China where we promptly lost a multi-million dollar long-term contract. Further, to add insult to injury, a new competitor entered the marketplace causing our share and revenue to plummet. A few years later and long after I changed companies, senior management eventually moved the plant – for a third time! – to the European Union, but it took them many years to get the contract back. Good grief!
This real-world example is a prime candidate for a Harvard Business Review article as it caused crappy employee morale, lost customer goodwill, slashed revenue and profits, and reneged contract, as well as needless investment waste and shrunken market share.
Always advocate for your customer
Being a customer champion is the right choice, even though it’s not easy or always possible
Sometimes, the business decisions you make won’t always be in the best interest of customers – especially when your business is facing acute challenges. For example, discontinuing beloved products because they’re costing too much money to produce, or struggling with customer service levels due to acute staffing shortages.
Advocating for customers may not be the easiest, especially if you’re the only one speaking out about it. Although you may not be successful in your approach, your customers will appreciate that you are their champion. You will not regret doing the right thing for customers – it will help you sleep better at night!
Share your stories with us
I’d love to hear about your customer champion experiences, whether you were successful – or failed in defending your consumer.
#CustomerCentric #CustomersFirst #AdvocacyMatters #AdvocateForCustomers #CustomerIsKing
Keeping marketing accountable.
Jessica Kelley is a seasoned leader with more than two decades of marketing and finance experience in B2B and B2C channels. She has worked extensively within healthcare, consumer, commercial, and software industries in diverse environments ranging in size from a $200 billion corporation to a startup firm. Her company, HPZ Marketing is an interim CMO and fractional CMO business and is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as a Women’s Business Enterprise and Women Owned Small Business (WOSB). They provide interim and fractional executive marketing services to help businesses achieve marketing ROI with executable strategy and a relentless focus on customer acquisition and retention. Learn more about hiring a fractional CMO for your business.