Magazine article People & Strategy

As the Customer's World Turns

Magazine article People & Strategy

As the Customer's World Turns

Article excerpt

How being a customer has changed! My wife is the photographer in the family; my job is to keep her in cameras. I remember when I purchased her first digital camera years ago. I dutifully did lots of research in the consumer and camera magazines and then went to the local camera store where the very knowledgeable and patient salesperson took me through every detail. I walked out with a then state-of-the-art digital camera, which I'm sure had at least 1 megapixel.

A few years later it was time to upgrade my wife's camera and to give the old camera to the kids. This time I looked at cnet.com, made a list and went to Best Buy. It was sold out of what I wanted, though the young salesman did his best to sell me something else. Later that day I was in Costco to buy some groceries, and I saw the camera that was top of my list at a great price. I bought it without talking to a sales clerk--of course no one there would have known anything about it anyway.

Just recently I bought my wife one of those cute little video flip cameras to capture and celebrate a big family event. I made a quick Web site visit to cnet.com and then on to newegg.com, where members of its huge online community write reviews of their experiences and tell you pretty accurately what to expect. I purchased the camera from newegg.com on that same Web site visit, and it arrived at the house two days later. This time the whole purchase took an hour or so, I never left my desk and didn't interact with any humans at all. No wonder my local camera store isn't there anymore.

I'm sure many of you have similar stories to tell. When the customer experience keeps morphing this radically, and has so many current variations, we all need to get our heads around the options and figure out how to align our organizations with our customers. That's why we are proud to publish this special issue on the organization-customer interface, with particular emphasis on how HR can play a major role in enhancing customer satisfaction in the Perspectives section and the articles that follow. …

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