Rant: Conversocial fails at customer centricity, and Chick-fil-A passes with flying colors

I received a call from Conversocial on Monday.  I downloaded a white paper entitled Who’s Ignoring Their Customers, and a fellow with a delightful English accent called from an international number to see if I was interested in their software.  He emailed me the previous Friday, and since I didn’t respond within one business day, he made a follow-up call.

All good, with two exceptions.

First, he clearly invested no time conducting even the most basic research on who I am.  That makes sense with an auto-response email, except this appeared to be personalized.  Any rep with an ounce of customer centricity would have realized I’m a very unlikely candidate to purchase their service, since it’s apparently targeted to accounts such as Tesco, McDonalds and Groupon.  Perhaps I could recommend them, but that was not the context of the call or the email.

But that’s the not real reason for this post.  No, the biggest problem was that this call came in at 5:55 in the morning!  I leapt to the phone assuming it was an emergency (no, I’m not typically up before 6), only to find out that this was a sales call.  He quickly hung up after I (not so) politely asked him to never call me again.

The first test of customer centricity is:  Do you value your customer?  Customer-centric companies segment customers and do at least basic research before that first call.  Is this client a good fit?  For what product or service?  I receive plenty of calls from software companies – but most ask if I would like to recommend their services to my clients.  I have never had anybody else tell me that since McDonald’s uses their software, so should I. Plus, most sales reps know how time zones work.

I probably should not assume the entire company is not customer-focused based on my interactions with this one individual.  But isn’t that how most customers operate?  When you have a bad waiter do you assume the rest are fine?  Most of us leave and do not come back.  You are only as strong as your last customer-focused employee!

This probably would not warrant a post, except that their software focuses on reputation management in the social media space, and I want to see how quickly they respond.  I’ll let you know!

Doing it Right

Contrast this to a conversation I had on Tuesday.  We were talking about customer experience when I asked “Have you ever eaten at Chick-fil-A?”  A smile came to Jessi’s face, and she said, “I love Chick-fil-A! I wish they were in Minnesota!”  In fact, she told me that her desire for her company was to be “The Chick-fil-A of the [service] industry!”  This is not the first time I have had this type of conversation.

Gallup conducted a nationwide study of fast food restaurants.  The average restaurant saw 20% of their customers engaged in their brand.  Chick-fil-A had 65%!  Chick-fil-A sees this amazing engagement because they take a no-compromises approach to creating a great customer experience.  I spoke with another fellow today who told me about a trip he took to the south – and how his fellow Minnesotans wanted to visit the local Chick-fil-A every day!  That is the power of engagement.

Ask anybody who has visited – it’s not about the food.  It’s about the service.  They truly focus on providing a great service through their hiring and training.  Here’s a test – go to any local fast food company (or, for that matter, a higher-end restaurant), and say thank you to the staff.  Odds are that you receive a variation of “No problem.”  Now do it at Chick-fil-A.  $2 says they respond with “It’s my pleasure.”

That shows how thoroughly Chick-fil-A approaches the customer experience.  Not only do they hire the right people (as discussed here), but they also train them to show the utmost respect for the customer.

So, here’s your homework.  First, look at your sales process.  I’ll assume you don’t call people at 5:55 AM. Instead look at your process.  Does your team do the basic research before they make that phone call or email?  Are they prepared to discuss how your product fits this customer’s unique needs?  Or does your team throw out big-name customers in the hope that will impress the prospect?

Second, go to Chick-fil-A and say thanks.  It will truly be their pleasure.

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Update:  This news just came out today!  http://bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2012/05/24/chick-fil-a-opening-msp-aiport.html?ana=e_du_pub&s=article_du&ed=2012-05-24.  And after that: http://bizjournals.com/twincities/morning_roundup/2012/05/chick-fil-a-coming-to-brooklyn-center.html?ana=e_twin_rdup&s=newsletter&ed=2012-05-25

Second update:  The CEO and Founder of Conversocial responded within 1.5 hours of this post!  I don’t know a whole lot about their company, but it appears their software is quite effective, in order to respond to this humble blog with such quick turnaround.

1 reply
  1. Avatar
    Joshua March says:

    Hi Jim, I’m the co-founder and CEO of Conversocial. I’m sorry about your experience – we’ve been growing quickly recently, with customers all over the globe, and obviously some mistakes were made. You’re completely right in all your points. I’ve spoken to the team and will make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. You can email me josh@conversocial.com directly anytime.

    Reply

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