Having spent almost three decades in the financial industry, I have met with many customers. I
hugely respect each one, committed as they have been to provide the best possible financial
outcomes and levels of service for their clients.
Every one of these customer relationships has been unique, differing either by location, culture,
language and/or many other aspects besides. In every interaction with them I sought to be on top of
my game and to deliver a client experience that would always reflect positively on the organisation I
represented. It has been a challenging and rewarding career.
As I reflect, I remember how much they differed from each other, on the one hand the client who
was relatively light touch in their service requirements, on the other, the highly demanding
customer where queries regularly required tailor-made solutions. I recall also, how the ground upon
which these relationships had been built was constantly shifting, whether due to a new contact
person taking over at the client organisation or perhaps in response to a team development at my
end that the customer might express some reservations about. Never mind, because when a major
sticky issue would occur, there was always the option of jumping on train or a plane to visit the client
in order to ensure that the relationship remained on track.
Right now, face-to-face contact with customers is problematic. Yes, we have video conferencing
platforms that have been ushered in to fill any potential communication void. But because the
across-the-table option has been removed we must be mindful of that voice in our heads reminding
us that the lines of communication between our customers and ourselves may not be as clear of
obstacles as we would wish them to be. Our clients too will be grappling with internal
communication issues and will have client relationship challenges of their own to attend to. We
should not be surprised therefore, if they do not have the time to answer each call that we make or
every email we send.
My favourite business guiding business principle sits prominently on my desk – it reads, “The only
problematic customer is a silent one”.