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Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Customer Care

Clear the Customer Experience Parking Lot

Everyone benefits when you prioritize customer satisfaction

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2019 - 11:02

Parking lot. We use it in the meeting-management world to mean agenda items that are tabled for later discussion. These are generally posted on a sheet of flip-chart paper, taped on the meeting wall, and then placed on the agenda of the next meeting so they are not forgotten as topics for discussion.

I was working with a large B2B company and sat in on its weekly senior leadership staff meeting. The attendees all agreed they needed to spend a considerable amount of time talking about the negative impact of their customers’ experiences of their company. Survey results verbatim and customer complaints repeatedly contained comments on the company’s great products but its lousy customer service. Their customer churn rate was up; customer-contact employees’ morale was low. But this particular meeting was already full of higher priority issues. So, customer experience was put on the parking lot flip chart.

A month later I attended the same senior leadership staff meeting in the same meeting room. The parking lot flip chart sheet with “customer experience” written on it was still hanging on the wall and was not on the current meeting agenda. The marketing director again reported an increase in the number of customer complaints and an elevation of customer churn. Yet, it appeared the topic of “customer experience” was not going to make the cut for attention in this meeting, either.

When I pointed to the parking lot sheet, there was silence. Then, in defense of their negligence, one participant commented, “We have had a lot of hectic meetings over the last month. We’ve just not been able to get to it.” However, someone else, no doubt feeling guilty about their earlier enthusiasm that remained only a good intention said, “Wonder if we are we just rearranging deck chairs on our Titanic?”

If your focus on customer experience is mere lip service, it will telegraph its low priority to everyone in your organization. Employees do not watch your mouth; they watch your moves. Observation trumps conversation. Clear your parking lot of pending items for later attention and put customer experience at the top of your agenda for actions and practices.

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About The Author

Innovating Service With Chip Bell’s picture

Innovating Service With Chip Bell

Chip Bell has helped companies dramatically enhance their bottom lines and marketplace reputation through innovative customer-centric strategies. For the sixth year in a row, Global Gurus in 2020 ranked Bell as one of the top three keynote speakers in the world on customer service. Bell has authored 24 books; seven are international best sellers. His latest book, Inside Your Customer’s Imagination: 5 Secrets for Creating Breakthrough Products, Services, and Solutions (Berrett-Koehler, 2020), shows how co-creation partnerships enable you to tap into the treasure trove of ideas, ingenuity, and genius-in-the-raw within every customer.