Do your customers know what you want?

Like many people I went to a pantomime during the Christmas break. As at every pantomime, it started with the Dame walking on stage and bantering with the audience. Being typically British, we were all a bit reticent about answering back. It took three attempts but eventually the Dame got the reaction she wanted. Actually it was the reaction vitally needed, as the whole success of pantomime depends on audience participation. Without the required interaction everything falls flat.

The Dame needed to make sure we knew the role we had to play. Which made me think how well do we communicate with our customers to help them recognise their role in customer experience? Most of us are great at managing expectations by letting customers know what to expect from us – but what about the other way round? Do your customers know what you expect from them?

Like any relationship, customer experience only works if there is understanding and effort on both sides. With both parties knowing what they need to do to make it work. Providing an exceptional customer experience is hard enough at the best of times, but is virtually impossible if it is left to just one side to make it work.

So my resolution for 2017 is to continually challenge our clients as to whether their customers know what they want. Don't be surprised if it leads to a few choruses of "Oh yes we do" – "oh no you don't"!

Tony Barritt is Managing Director of Investor in Customers – dedicated to helping our clients deliver an exceptional customer experience.