What happens when your customer goes POP?

ImageYou know that moment when as a customer you go POP – when you’ve reached your P**s Off Point!

What does it mean?  It means that for whatever reason (be it cost, time overruns, loss of the creative muse, a breach of trust or confidence, being ignored, fobbed off with excuses) your customer makes a momentous decision. That now is the time to move on, to search for and find another supplier.

If things are really bad, that may well include a decision to change; even if the new supplier is not quite as good, is a bit more expensive, doesn’t exactly do the ideal job…but emotionally your client is at the stage where almost anything is better than having to continue to deal with the existing supplier.

Well – can I give you an example?

We have been using a particular suppliers accounting software and payroll for over 10 years (let’s name them as Intuit and Quickbooks).  In that time we’ve put up with;

  • new versions, which entail a bunch of work on our part to configure to do what the previous version did
  • having to re-learn how to use the stuff
  • a software purchase fee, which morphed into a vastly increased monthly charge and resulted in a huge argument with a Customer Service rep when we found that new customers were charged considerably less than we were being charged, before getting it reduced
  • and today…well today the damn payroll table wouldn’t update and Intuit Customer Service essentially tried to blackmail us into having to pay them to get the answer (‘…all software has bugs and you need to pay £50 or £10 per month for us to fix it…’)

I’m afraid I sense a pattern here – this is an organisation that relies on us finding it more difficult to move away from them and thus reluctantly accepts what seems like an unceasing effort to extract more money from us.

The Intuit Customer Service reps may be polite, but that just seems to be a mask; underneath is an organism only interested in itself and existing to feed off its unsuspecting customers.

Today was the day that we went POP. Tomorrow we start to find an alternative (any suggestions?)

And Intuit – if this is your status quo, then sooner or later you may have to face up to the reality, nasty companies eventually get found out.

And you dear reader…what would you do if your customers went POP on you?

So you want to build trust?

ImageWe read a lot about the absence of trust, the extent to which trust has been eroded in society today and the need for organisations and their leaders to work to regain the trust they supposedly had.  At the weekend I had an interesting conversation (via Twitter) with Craig Sands and colleagues at The Chrysalis Group about trust and being trustworthy.

I said that I would share a model of trust building that I’ve created over the past few months – this is it above.  As you can see there are three elements that need to link if trust is to be developed – Mutual Dependence (to what extent do we need each other?), Mutual Alignment (to what extent doe we share views) and Mutual Respect (to what extent do we like each other).

These in turn are routed in our cultural norms (and so our willingness to enter into trusting relationships will vary between cultures) and our personal readiness to invest the necessary time and effort in building trust and behaving in trustworthy ways.

You can also see that making a start requires one of the parties to take a risk – e.g. to share their needs, their goals and values and/or the extent to which they are prepared to listen to the others.

And that element of initial risk taking can be the most difficult to achieve.  But of course the only thing more risky than taking that first step is to not take it.  And therefore never start on a journey that may lead to the undoubted benefits greater trust brings to us, our live and that of our colleagues, customers, friends and families.