Women and customer service!

Published on 07 October 2009 by in Customer Service, Latest News

Last Tuesday, I had a most informative and delightful meeting at the spectacular settings of MoiraClarke Women and customer service! Business School (pictured below) with Moira Clark (pictured opposite). Moira is Professor of Strategic Marketing and she serves as a consultant to a number of leading UK and European companies. Her major area of research and consulting is in Customer Management, Customer Retention and Internal Marketing. She has worked extensively in the area of culture and climate, its impact on retention and loyalty and the critical linkages between employee behaviour and customer retention.

As a passionate advocate too of great customer service, it was fascinating to listen to Moira’s real life examples and customer experience research over lunch. A lady who is very passionate about customer service.

What was particularly interesting for me, was Moira’s numerous examples of HenleyOffices Women and customer service!how women are treated (so badly) by service organisations. Now I do confess, this is a subject area I had not particularly thought about. Yes, of course, we at numero see the need for personalised contact and communications. And, we most certainly recognise that each person and each demographic has different service aspirations and expectations – but what was so fascinating to me was Moira’s insight into how women are treated by UK service organisations and what the future holds.

Moira argues that a simple shift is in targeting will not be enough – a fundamental re examination of how we handle women will be required.

At this stage, I must stress this insight was not based on any sexist or predetermined female agenda but more a clear demonstration of how we all must think very carefully about how our service functions are set up and operated.

The start of Moira’s remarkable insight began with the importance of women in our society: for example, in the UK a woman’s disposable income has shot up by 50% in the last 20 years, today women make up 80% of all buying decisions, while in 20 years time they are expected to be the main earner in a quarter of homes and women account for half of the UK’s millionaires (well according to Moira and seemingly, endorsed the Future Foundation). So not only is this sex affluent but powerful too on the influence side. This data clarified to me the sphere of influence women wield (if I hadn’t realised anyway through Marilyn!).

This struck an immediate chord. My recent car purchase was heavily influenced by my wife and daughter (“oh, not one of those Dad” or the “oh, not that colour………..” . Yet as Moira quickly pointed out – women are stereotyped and treated in a particular way by car show rooms. This led me to tell Moira about one of my friends who has recently lost her husband and went to buy herself a soft top Bentley as a bit of a life fillip to be  greeted at the Bentley showroom  reception with desk “would it be a good idea to have your husband with you?!” Ouch, ouch!

Topically, in the last week, we will all have heard of the case of the lady who called her Broadband provider about a set up issue on her Internet connection. She was greeted with the response from the young male contact centre agent; “perhaps I could call back later when your husband is in?” Not good.

This Blog is not a rant for sexism but the note is a very simple set of examples about knowing your customers and treating them appropriately.

We all recognise that the world is changing and we must be adapt and be more careful about how we handle customers. Perhaps 20 years ago, the typical buyer of a Bentley may well have been the suited and well turned out gentleman. But life is changing and very quickly; much of today’s wealth has been created by the new entrepreneurial class in the UK. A guy turning up in ripped jeans and trainers or the smart single lady - may well be the next prospective Bentley buyer!

We can all ignore these changes and risk the consequences of our ignorance. numero’s approach is to treat each customer in a personal way and do the right thing for them.

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