End-to-End Customer Experience

Do You Have Someone to Hold Your Customers’ Hands All the Way to Success?

February 10, 2011

Customers hate complexity! What they really want is for someone else—whether it is your organization or a third party—to manage the complexity for them! Learn what makes a good customer project/account manager.


Customers hate complexity! Even though they may be involved in a complex project or they have a complex relationship with your organization, they still want it to be easy for them to achieve their desired goals. What they really want is for someone else—whether it is your organization or a third party—to manage the complexity for them! Both B2B andB2C customers want a single point of con-tact who will act as their advocate—a customer project manager who is knowledgeable, communicates with the experts to ensure that the customer’s needs are being handled, who has the clout to act on the customer’s behalf, and who makes it easy to navigate the oft confusing path through a com-plex project or relationship.


Saving Customers the Bother

There are many situations where customers, both B2B and B2C, are out of their depths in reaching a successful outcome. For example, moving a company to a new building, which includes leases, permits, construction, purchasing new equipment, moving existing furnishings and equipment, ordering new stationary, etc., etc.; or dealing with the ramifications of an auto accident, including repairing the vehicle, getting a loaner or rental car, and filing for the insurance claims. These customers typically come to your company to help them with certain steps of these complex projects. And they go to other providers to handle other aspects. But what many of them really want is to hand off the responsibility of managing the entire scenario to a skilled and responsive project manager. Basically, they want the whole thing to just “go away” until it is successfully completed. If your business handles part of customers’ projects, perhaps you should consider the value of taking on the entire project (or partnering seamlessly with a partner who can do so).

Great Example: Remodeling a Bathroom

In November, I went on a business trip the beginning of Thanksgiving week. Before I left, I had noticed that the floor of my bathroom was looking a bit bumpy, but I had a plane to catch, so I put it out of my mind. When I returned Tuesday night, I saw that the bathroom floor was warped next to the toilet. Although I couldn’t see any water on the ground, I suspected that the toilet was leaking under the floor and causing the tiled floor to buckle. It was too late in the day to call a plumber—and I didn’t know a plumber to call. What I did was contact a friend who had an older home and had had some renovations, including plumbing done. He gave me the name of his plumber, Allan, and a great endorsement for his talents.

I called the plumber the next morning at 9 a.m.—the day before Thanksgiving—thinking that I’d be lucky to hear back from him by the next Monday. Allan called back within the hour, and agreed to come look at the bathroom that morning. He showed up about 11 a.m. and gave me the bad news that the leak had been so severe that my entire floor needed to be replaced. Before I even had the chance to panic (what do I know about finding someone to replace a floor?), he recommended Suzan Chatis of House & Grounds (house.grounds@juno.com in the Boston area) who organizes and manages just this sort of contracting project. I called Suzan immediately, and she agreed to come see the damage and discuss what needed to be done. Remember again that this is the day before Thanksgiving.

She showed up two hours later and walked me through what the project would entail and the role she could play in making it all easy for me to get done. She has a group of skilled tradesmen she uses, including Allan, each of whom was bonded and had over 15 years experience. She explained that she would contract with them, schedule them to come when appropriate (e.g., the floor tiler after the carpenter, the painter after the tiler, the plumber after the painter, etc.). She would tell me what items I needed to select myself (such as replacement floor tile) and provided suggestions of where I could do my shopping. She would provide an estimate to give to the insurance carrier, and she would herself let the workers in each day. (Since my only bathroom would be out of commission, I had to find alternate lodging or else not go to the bathroom all day and night!)

For all these services, she charged 12 percent above the cost of the contractors. I said yes immediately! The time savings alone, not to mention the reduced stress and aggravation, was well worth her fee.

The happy result? The bathroom was completed three days ahead of schedule, the work was exceptional, and Suzan was there for me whenever I had a question or just needed an ear to mull over a purchase decision (such as what style of vanity might work in the bathroom, what type of toilet to buy, etc.—since I was doing the construction already, I took the opportunity to upgrade to the bathroom I really wanted). I felt taken care of and protected from the stress and overwhelm that would have resulted if I had to coordinate a project that was so out of my comfort zone.

Not So Great Example: The Insurance Process

As soon as I had the bad news from Allan, I called my insurance broker, she put in a claim immediately, and I got quick response from the company that did the insurance adjustments for my provider. He came over a few days later to view the damage, and I got an estimate from him quickly. He also made my day when he told me that my policy covers lodging and meals while I can’t stay in my condo. But he explained that since I lived in a condo, the condo association’s insurance company also had to be involved.

Fast forward to today—I have put in my claim for the hotel/meal expenses, which the adjuster assured me would be paid very quickly. And he approved the covered bathroom expenses, but was waiting on the other insurance company. But I haven’t gotten the payment for the lodging, I can’t get him on the phone, the other insurance company hasn’t contacted me even though I put my broker and my condo association on their tail, so I haven’t seen any money yet. I have to try to contact these people every day! I’ve almost given up on ever getting the insurance money (thousands of dollars!). I wish that House & Grounds managed that part of the process, but Suzan acknowledged that it isn’t within the scope of what she does.

I asked my insurance broker, Mary, if there were any situations or services that did manage the insurance process from start to finish. She told me that only the biggest projects are managed by the insurance companies (millions of dollars) or that you could hire a firm that provided complete financial services, including paying bills, etc. But these services are expensive and typically are only used by the wealthiest of clients. As much as she would like to help me out, all she can do is again call the insurance companies and tell them to contact me, which hasn’t worked so far.


Wanted: Single Point of Contact

Even when the actual project isn’t that complex and only involves your organization, such as negotiating a contract or obtaining service agreements, the relationship that a customer (or supplier) has with your organization can, in itself, be complex to manage. Organizations that have multiple lines of business are often a nightmare for customers (or suppliers) to navigate. Even though you consider each of your business units to be separate, to the customer, you are a single organization, and they don’t understand why they have to ...


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