Most of us are involved in some form of business acquisition for our respective companies. We all know that winning business often requires a significant investment in time, resources and energy and that the thrill of the chase is an exciting one. Isn't it a shame that sometimes the customer, who you worked so hard to win, cancels the order during the initial stages because someone, somewhere has let them down?
The sequence of events is often typical - an 'important' meeting of department heads is set up to find out who the culprit was, and why, but its too late - all you can do is learn from the mistakes - or at least that's the logical outcome.
In this post, I want to highlight just two issues which your company faces in retaining customers - based on my own experiences:
• The value of customer service
• Moments of truth
The Value of Service
Looking around, it's easy to see how many companies have developed customer service strategies using the telephone. Take for example some of the fast food establishments who actively promote 0800 care lines, or the soft drinks cans with care line numbers on the packaging and the cleaning product companies with care lines. Care lines are increasing at a rapid pace in some industries.
So what is the value of good customer service? It increases spend, loyalty, reduces costs, promotes your company through positive word of mouth, differentiates you from your competition and can help you charge premium prices for your products and services.
We all want to deliver good customer service and want our customers to go out and recommend us to their friends, family and colleagues, yet finding the most efficient and cost effective way of doing this can be difficult. The telephone can play an important part in developing a comprehensive customer service strategy and should be looked at not just for the obvious applications of inbound care lines but for proactive applications that could pre-empt issues before they arise.
Service isn't just about answering calls quickly (within 3 rings is what I usually hear). It's also important that the person you speak to has all the information and that you do not have to repeat yourself. Unfortunately, I have lost count of the number of times I have to do the latter with companies these days - even by some of the so-called top service companies.
Looking at badly handled calls, many of us are aware that 86% of customers would prefer not doing business with a company again if a single call is badly handled, but still many companies put inexperienced, poorly trained staff at the front end of their business. Worst of all, when you have a problem, you can't get it resolved easily!
Unfortunately, customer care is still regarded by many as a costly activity or a burden on resources.
Fortunately, a few organizations have already recognized the importance of customer care and that few are very advanced in its practice.
Moments of Truth
Every contact an existing, or potential, customer has with your company is a moment of truth. It could be how quickly their call was answered, how long it took your company to send out a brochure, what happens when the delivery driver turns up with the product, how accurate the invoice is, etc.
Recognizing all the moments of truth in your company will allow you to address weaker areas easily - for example, Jan Carlzon of SAS identified almost 1000 moments for customers using his airline. He then set his senior managers the task of improving each of these by just 1%, resulting in a substantial increase in service!
Have you already begun thinking about your company's moments of truth? I do hope so, because it is possible that your competitors are examining theirs!