We or Oui

Oui Pink.png

The French have captured the romance and essence of customer service in a single word: ‘Oui.’ Many businesses have a single word that captures their customer service system as well.  No!  Not that word!  I’m talking about the word, ‘We.’ These two words, although similar in sound, carry vastly different philosophies.

Companies find themselves in one of two categories: We or Oui. It’s not a question of language.  It’s more a question of attitude – toward your customers.  Oui, of course, means yes in French.  We’ve all experienced companies with the ‘oui’ mentality where their default response is, ‘Yes!’ Unfortunately, those types of experiences are rare.  More often than not, you are greeted by a company with a rigid, bunker mentality who are quick to say, ‘No.’ Organizations like this give every indication that their primary concern is their internal system and processes. Their focus on ‘we’ overpowers their ability to say, ‘Oui.’

How can you tell which philosophy governs your business?

A recent article by Gene Marks published by The Hartford can shed some light, and all it takes is a quick glance around your lobby.  The article mentioned signs hanging in businesses like ‘Notice: Prices subject to change according to customer’s attitude,’ and ‘Sarcasm is just one more service we offer.’  Signs like that are good indicators your business is more about ‘we’ than you are about ‘oui.’  One particular sign left Marks shaking his head, ‘Suppose we refund your money, send you another one for free, close the store and have the manager shot.  Would THAT be satisfactory?’  Rarely is a business so blatantly ‘we’ focused.

Another barometer to determine your philosophy as a business is by listening to your advertising. Just count how many times you use the word, ‘we’ especially when a customer calls and is placed on hold.

‘We’ve been in business for 75 years.’  ‘We have the best staff with a combined 92 years of experience.’  ‘We have more stores with the largest inventory on the planet.’ If your advertising is focused more on pedigree, history, and product it’s a good indicator of your primary focus and it’s probably not ‘oui.’

Let me give you one more example: Zappos vs. a local cable provider. How do you know which is ‘oui’ and which is ‘we?’ Call in and cancel your order with them.  One business will make you want to be a customer for life.  The other will suck the life-blood from your veins, driving you to do everything in your power to find another cable and internet provider.  Oh, no. have I tipped my hand?

Actually they have. And so have you. Take a moment and examine your primary focus as a business – and be honest. Are you more inclined to say ‘we’ or ‘oui’ to a caller?  If you are ‘we’ focused, make the necessary change to put your customer first – every time.  If you are ‘oui’ focused, does your on-hold advertising match your philosophy? If not, change your program to promote what you do best – focusing on the needs of your customers first. 

Not sure how to proceed?  Contact WMG.

We specialize in ‘oui.’

Tom McTee, Super-Genius

Tom McTee