CVF ARTICLE OF THE WEEK Add Us to Your Safe Sender List
5 Tips to Create Customer Value
By Gautam Mahajan, President Customer Value Foundation and Founder-
Editor of the Journal of Creating Value
When Don Hale asked me to write about 5 tips on creating Customer Value,
my first reaction was that everyone wants to focus on the things one should
do. Working on Customer delight is easier than to focusing on Customer
Much of the work that is done in Customer service is to give the Customer a
good experience. Avoiding bad experiences are not given that much of a
priority. There are processes and systems put into place to give a good
experience, and to make the Customer journey more comfortable.
Despite this effort, all of us who are Customers (and that means every single
one of us), still have persistent problems and heartaches in dealing with
companies and service providers. Why is this the case?
Rather than answer the question, I suggest we look at typical problems and
why they happen, and what might have prevented them from happening. We
can then end this article with suggestions on the 5 tips.
Have you ever gone onto a website and found you cannot get adequate or
updated information? Take me, I have often found that the addresses/phone
numbers for offices are wrong and have landed up at a wrong office. Or there
is no way to get updated information. Let’s say, I deal with Joe Blow and I
have his email, and Joe Blow leaves the company. I get an undelivered mail,
and have no way of knowing who his replacement is. Try finding this
information from the website (or at least to find the right person to get the
information from). Often you are asked to fill in a form and submit it with
your query but you get no response. Or you call the switch board (if any and
provided you are not asked to punch an extension number or provided you
don’t have to wait an eternity), the person will ask who you are, why do you
want to know etc. etc. As if you are trying to steal the company’s family
Or try using an internet site for making a booking. Try making a hotel booking
for two different type of rooms, an ordinary and a deluxe. You are not
allowed to do so, and have to run the transaction twice. In India, the airlines
offer you a minor discount (let’s say Rs 200 off on a Rs 10000 round trip
ticket) when you are booking on line. Often the fine print does not show up.
If it did show up, and you could read it you would find that if you had clicked
this option you would lose cancellation rights. Or try filling out forms for
overseas travel insurance where their form does not allow you to punch in
your entire passport number (and the fine print there says wrong information
will make the policy void).
I have told several senior executives of the insurance company about this and
they all understand the problem but no one will react ….It ain’t my job
syndrome at work. The problems related above have to do with lack of
teamwork and poor communications. They also have to do with departmental
Have you ever tried to make a change in an insurance policy on line after you
have paid for it? Let’s say you want to extend the number of days on an
overseas insurance policy, before the policy has come into effect. All the
insurance company has to do is to collect the excess amount. For the
company I deal with, this is not allowed. So I have to cancel the policy I had
just bought and buy a new policy. No, I have paid twice, but my refund will
come in 30 days. (We want your money right away. Your money or refund will
take a lot longer). The rules of the company look at the convenience of the
company and not the convenience of the Customer.
Another example of the ‘not my job syndrome’, or the ‘I do not care
syndrome’ happened to me close to midnight at Marseilles airport. My flight
was 3 hours late, and I went to pick up a Hertz car. Amex refused my
payment. The Hertz lady was most helpful. She called Amex in Paris and
asked for the card to be validated. The Paris lady could not, as this was a US
card and could only be validated in the US. Could she connect me? No, she
could not. Could she give me the US number? Don’t have it, she says. So I call
Amex in India, get the US number and call the US and my card is Okayed.
Here is an example of an unnecessary Customer journey. Amex France could
have seamlessly patched me to the US instead of extending my Customer
journey unnecessarily. This is also an example of un-helpfulness. Or of poor
design of processes and systems.
I recently tried to book a hotel with a large group. They make you ‘chat’
online with a rep. He then takes your information and sends it to sales, who
come back to you at a snail’s pace, causing you to become anxious, or
wondering; Worse still, the payment I made through their gateway was for Rs
20,999 but it showed on the Welcome Hotel site as Rs 2,099,900! When I
finally got through to them they said, oh that is a decimal point error. Do not
worry (poor sap, me worrying about going broke, and it was only a decimal
point error!) Who is going to ensure future Customers do not have this
problem? Heaven knows!
Your Payment Transaction Details Response Page
Standard Transaction Fields
VPC API Version: 1
Merchant Transaction Reference: WH38/,,,,,, DATED 27/11/2014
Merchant ID: 9820224392
Order Information: 9820224392
Transaction Amount: 2099900
So what do we do? Here are my tips:
Tip 1. Form Customer Circles of cross functional front line people, along with
staff people who can make things happen. These people will tell you about
the problems that I have related above. This will also improve teamwork and
help break silos. It will make front line people more aware and proactive.
Tip 2. Have a communication system that allows you to update changes right
away, and ensure the Customer has to make no unnecessary journey to get a
new contact name or number or information.
Tip 3. Build in a Customers DNA (Do Not Annoy) in the minds of your
executives, not just the front line people. Enable them (not empower
them…empowerment without enabling information and tools is worthless) to
put in processes and systems to prevent Customers from getting annoyed.
Tip 4. Give the convenience of the Customer the same if not higher priority
than the convenience of the company, whether it is in refunds,
cancellations, time and energy. Reduce the Customer journey and avoid
policies and actions (or inactions) that increase the Customer’s journey
Tip 5. Do not make the Customer anxious or keep him waiting, as I was made
to do in Marseilles or on the on line chat to make a reservation or when I
made my hotel payment.
These tips will help you change mind-sets and improve Customer service and
create more value for your Customer, which will improve your market share
Your comments are welcome!
Gautam Mahajan, President-Customer Value Foundation
M: +91 9810060368
Tel: 11-26831226, Fax: 11-26929055
Customer Value Foundation (CVF) helps companies to Create Value and
profit by Creating Value for the Customers, employee and for each person
working with the companies.
Total Customer Value Management (Total CVM) transforms the entire
company to focus on Creating Value for the Customer by aligning each
person's role in Creating Customer Value and getting shareholder wealth and