The Art of Keeping Customers in the Dark

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Summary:

Have you ever had an experience where you gave your all for your customers and still they were unhappy? If so, one possible reason for their reaction is that you implemented a major change without preparing them for it. In a company I visited, I came across a situation that aptly illustrates this kind of failure to communicate.

Have you ever had an experience where you gave your all for your customers and still they were unhappy? If so, one possible reason for their reaction is that you implemented a major change without preparing them for it. In a company I visited, I came across a situation that aptly illustrates this kind of failure to communicate.

This organization embarked on a technological upgrade that entailed replacing a lot of the desktop hardware and software that employees (internal customers) had grown accustomed to. For many people, mandated change from the familiar to the unfamiliar is unsettling, even when the change will ultimately yield benefits. Given the magnitude of this particular change, informing customers about how it would take place would have been wise.

Unfortunately, however, until the manager overseeing the upgrade contacted customer managers to schedule upgrades for their departments, customers were kept in the dark. As a result, they lacked an understanding of the purpose, scope, and business benefits of the upgrade -- and the steps they could take to prepare for it.

Customers reacted angrily when the technical staff arrived to "tamper" with their computers. (Comments like @#$!%^ and *;&^%/@ were heard throughout the land.) And that anger escalated when customers experienced degraded system performance. Their reaction was, "Why are you pushing this down our throats?"

When customers aren't kept in the loop about a change that will dramatically affect them, they see the effort as yet another hare-brained scheme to sabotage their productivity and complicate their already complex lives. (And let's admit it, so do we, when we're the customer.)

How often do you undertake efforts that will have a huge impact on your customers without considering their perspective, communicating your plans, explaining your rationale, and keeping them informed? I hope your answer is "Never!"

User Comments

2 comments
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

Based on my experiance this is real true issue, we must prepare our customers to a change in advance, they will appriciate it and the change will get in much easily.

June 16, 2010 - 9:51pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous

You're exactly right, both that the change will get in much more easily AND that they will appreciate it. Some customers are so rarely informed in advance of an upcoming change that they especially appreciate it in those rare instances in which someone does inform them in advance. ~Naomi

June 16, 2010 - 9:53pm

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