Editor's Briefing

Malcolm Oliver

The Financial Services Forum

Malcolm Oliver explains, briefly, the challenge of consistent communications.
Delivering lifetime value depends on understanding the customer’s needs, and staying in effective contact with him as those needs emerge and develop. Clear and consistent communication is therefore absolutely crucial. Customers (and potential customers) receive countless messages and experiences, directly and indirectly, from any company with which they deal. If all of these messages are consistent and complementary, and the promises are delivered, then customer satisfaction and loyalty is the result. If not, customers will be likely to defect elsewhere.
Consistency in such multi-channel communication is difficult even within a single office. In an organization with hundreds of offices and thousands of staff and millions of customers, it is arguably the dominant management issue. Consistency is not something that can be trained into an organization – customers expect immediate and efficient responses, and do not react well to the lack of spontaneity that arises with regimented approaches. It is in any case not possible to prescribe all the issues that may arise. So, rather than being trained, the company has to learn – learn the way in which any individual staff member should act, rather than the detail of what he should do. Staff have to be empowered to “do whatever they think is right for the customer and the company”, but they also need to be prepared for, and supported in, this responsibility.
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