How do you treat your customers? In this Harvard Business Review video, Anne Morris interestingly tells us that one way to do that is by treating customers as unpaid and untrained employees. The managing editor of the Concire Leadership Institute elaborates this further by suggesting that effective customer management should be drafted upon how we effectively manage our own employees. That is, we must pay close attention to things like selecting our target customers, training them how to do things, designing their job, and motivating them.
If all of that sounds odd, she actually gives us a concrete example of a successful company that executed these principles well: the remarkable coffee giant Starbucks. The company faced a dilemma during its early days. Customers were making their own vocabulary, trying hard to describe the exact drink they wanted to order. This led to an inefficiency of their service as lines became much longer.
To address this, Starbucks designed a job for the customers by creating their own Starbucks vocabulary. Customers were then trained to follow this vocabulary when they wanted to order. As a motivation, they were corrected publicly if they did not do their job well by incorrectly placing an order. Since no one wanted to be in that situation, customers tried their best to familiarize themselves with the job designed for them.
Starbucks’ story turned out to be very helpful in delivering efficient customer services.