|Customer Service Information|
Client Service as a Competitive Advantage
As someone who has been heavily involved facilitating strategic planning processes with organizations during the last 15+ years, I often find it somewhat amusing how people answer the questions I pose.
For example, if I ask people, "What is your unique differentiation in the marketplace?" or "What does your organization really excel at?" They will almost always reply, "It has to be our client service." Almost no one will admit to being "lousy" in client service, any more than they will talk about living in an average town with average kids. Instead I see the "Lake Woebegone Syndrome." In Lake Woebegone it seems all the women are pretty, all the men are handsome, and all the kids are well above average.
If while getting to know someone's agency or company, I ask the question, "If I hauled you into a court of law and accused you of being a 'world class' client service provider, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" Many times, unfortunately, their answer is, "Probably not."
Therefore, if so many people think client service and satisfaction is so critical to the success of the vision and the execution of the strategic plan, why is it not usually monitored with the same intensity as the financials? After all, financials are a lagging indicator (telling what happened after the fact) while client satisfaction may be a leading indicator (it can be predicting what may happen in the future).
Many organizations go through all sorts of trial and error and purchase various software programs to keep their finger on the pulse of dollars and cents because they want to know where they are and minimize opportunity for loss. For years it has been known that "what gets measured gets done."
If that is the case, why is it that many organizations choose to almost ignore measuring client satisfaction? By doing so, they run the risk of losing established clients to the competition.
Client Service as Overarching PhilosophyIn 1960, Professor Theodore Leavitt wrote the groundbreaking article, "Marketing Myopia," in the Harvard Business Review. To paraphrase, he basically concluded that the purpose of all business is to attract and maintain customers while generating adequate profitability today and improved profitability in the future. That balancing act still holds true today. How many organizations do you know that are masters at bringing business in the front door only to lose it out the back door just as quickly? We have also dealt with organizations that service their existing business so well that the owners and principals "never get around to developing new business."
Those organizations and agencies that see customer or client service as simply a department to be managed rather than a point of strategic differentiation may be looking at the business through the lens of short-term focus. So many people that we talk with have never calculated the lifetime value of a typical insured and even those that have usually aren't communicating that number to their staff at every level of the organization on a regular basis. Knowing that number can provide a framework to make decisions for the long haul and maintain the client relationship rather than looking at it from a "transactional" basis.
To calculate the lifetime value, take the number of years that a client/insured usually stays with the agency multiplied by the estimated net profit per line of business (auto, P&C, E&O, DB, etc). The total dollars can give you some idea of what is at risk in the future if you under serve your client base.
For example, if a typical insured stays with your agency 15 years and has 3 different policies with you each generating $200/year in profit, each new insured is worth approximately $9000 going forward (15yrs x $200/policy x 3 policies = $9000) if they are treated so well that they won't even consider moving to someone else. Now ask yourself, how cavalierly would you treat a check written to your agency for $9000? Would you do the equivalent of going into your back yard, digging a hole, burying it there and walking away from it forever? In essence that is what happens when clients are taken for granted. The cause can either be by default ie. not paying attention, understaffing by design, allowing a lack of systemic follow-up and follow-through, or it can be attributed to a management team with so strong a focus on short-term results that they become almost greedy.Does your organization have a client service strategy?If you examine your strategic plan, it's necessary to differentiate the agency strategy and plan from the client service strategy. They are not identical. Organizations need to implement a "Client Bill of Rights."
Leaders in organizations need to ask themselves if they are willing to pay the price for excellent client service vs. good client service. Excellence costs, but it also pays off. Being even a little better than the competitor pays huge dividends. Yet many organizations are not willing to pay that price. Instead they are content with processes, technology and staff who are "good enough."
As mentioned before, "what gets measured, gets done." Client expectation measurements are important as are ways to monitor them. It is necessary for organizations to take the time to discover why a client has signed on with you and not the competition. It's also necessary to determine what they really want to have happen as part of the client experience. It is then up to you to make sure you are delivering what your client wants. Failure to do so most likely will result in the loss of that client to your competitor.
Once you determine what it is your client really desires, make sure you match those expectations in terms of pricing and service. Make sure you are not trying to sell a champagne policy to someone with a beer budget and vice versa. It's necessary to have processes in place to support excellent client service from beginning to end. That is, do you have the right amount of staffing resources to meet their needs? Make it as easy as possible for them to conduct business with you.
While having the proper talent is vital to ensuring excellence in client service, it is also known that 94% of failings are the result of process/system failures and not people failures.
My car recently broke down. While it was being towed to the dealer, the towing company damaged another part of the car. The dealer was willing to go ahead and fix the damage, but the towing company wanted the damage they caused handled by their insurance carrier. They had a local agent connected to an insurance company in Arizona. The problem was that the local agent did not have the necessary claim number or phone number for the agent handling the claim in Arizona. Therefore, the dealer, who was willing and able to fix the car, didn't have the information they needed to work with the towing company. As a result, repairs that could have been completed in 48 hours took four to six weeks.
The problem was that no one owned the entire client experience, each company only owned a piece of it. Anytime there is an opportunity for a hand-off where something can go wrong, organizations often rely on the client, who has no knowledge of the situation, to be able to handle the details. It is vital for organizations to own the entire client experience.
Of course, no matter what the situation is, things don't always go smoothly. Problems arise, that's why organizations should make sure they have a process in place for "service recovery." That is, if something goes wrong suddenly, they should be able to recover with minimal damage.
Finally, organizations should make sure their policies protect the right people. Often, they have policies in place that protect themselves against the 1% of clients who abuse the system. This makes the other 99% of their clients who play by the rules pay the price. Many organizations, unfortunately, don't look at what they are doing through the eyes of the customers. Rather, they only are looking to protect themselves.
Excellent customer service demands a price. Are you willing to pay it?
Doug Brown is the CEO and Chairman of Paradigm Associates LLC, a strategic and executive leadership development firm based in Cranford, NJ. He combines an innovative thinking style with his conversational questioning ability to help organizations recognize and breakthrough their existing paradigms. This naturally leads them to solve stubborn problems and work through difficult situations. A Certified Facilitator for the Total Quality Institute (TQI), Brown understands the distinction between simply conducting "training sessions" and facilitating meetings with potentially complex subject matter.
Visit http://www.ParadigmAssociates.US or call (908) 276-4547.
Unable to open RSS Feed $XMLfilename with error HTTP ERROR: 429, exiting
Aint We Wonderful!
It may come as a surprise to you to discover that customers don't buy your products or services because they feel that you have a right to make a profit. In other words, their motive for doing business with you is not to help you buy the latest Jaguar or put your children through college.
What Exactly is Customer Relationship Management?
The defintion of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that I favor is "CRM is the business strategy that aims to understand, anticipate, manage and personalize the needs of an organization's current and potential customers"From this we can learn that CRM is more than just a piece of software; CRM is a business strategy, one that puts the customer at the heart of the business."That's nothing new" I hear you say, and you would be right.
How To Use Your Current Customers
Jay instructed a customer of his to offer a rare coin collection to new customers for just $19. He was actually losing a couple of dollar on every sale! But .
How To Build Stellar Client Relationships
Your opportunity to build a stellar client relationship starts with managing the gap between your perception of how things are going and your client's.Begin the process here .
Customer Service For Huge Profits
Customer service is the most vital asset for Businesseither it is online or offline. It's the critical factorwhich determines if your business has a future or not.
Dont Forget your Existing Clients
Quest for new clients shouldn't ignore those who pay the billsAcquisition. It's a big word in small business marketing.
Committed To Your Customer? Prove It When They Complain!
Businesses like to brag in their advertising about quality of work, commitment to their customers, and excellent service. These statements are also proudly advanced in Mission, Vision, and Values Statements.
What have you done for your existing customers lately? Probably not much, if you are like most businesses.I know that hunting new business is more of an adrenaline rush than working the business you already have, but it is not as crucial to your long-term success.
Minimize The Pain of Check Recovery
$350 million in bad checks are written each and every week. That fact alone makes bad checks a serious problem for American businesses.
Why You Should Always Honour Your Guarantees - Even When The Customer Is In The Wrong
The Reason Why Direct Internet Marketers Have To Work So Hard To Earn Our TrustA bad attitude to customer service can literally destroy your business.So, I thought I'd share my response to what I read on an Internet Marketing Forum recently to illustrate my point.
The History of CRM -- Moving Beyond the Customer Database
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is one of those magnificent concepts that swept the business world in the 1990's with the promise of forever changing the way businesses small and large interacted with their customer bases. In the short term, however, it proved to be an unwieldy process that was better in theory than in practice for a variety of reasons.
Customer Service: Stop Sabotaging Your Customer Relationships
If you've called for customer service recently you're familiar with this recorded message "This call may be recorded or monitored for quality purposes." I immediately think to myself, "Oh great, here comes the game of 20 questions.
Sales Marketing: 10 High Impact Ways To Improve Your Customer Service
If you want to last a long time in business and succeed, you must learn how to make your customers happy.You have to know who are your customers, what they want and keep in touch with them and their needs.
Reducing Customer Resistance to Your Product or Service
Resistance has to do with putting up blocks that prevent us from doing, being, or accomplishing what we want for our business. There are many reasons for feeling resistance including fear of new things or change, fear of failure or success or even fear of not being perfect.
Outsourcing: The Unspoken Costs
Outsourcing seems to be the new-new thing and approximately 50% of our major corporations are doing it. What are the costs? The benefits? And what skills need to be managed in order to make it work optimally?Let's get a clear understanding of what we mean by outsourcing: it's the shifting of easily codified jobs - such as help desk support, call centers, system maintenance, and programming jobs - to countries that can manage them more cheaply.
Finding Out Why a Potential Customer is Calling On You
Our challenge as the business owner/sales person answering the telephone, is to build rapport with the caller, quickly and easily.In most cases, the caller has been told something about you and your product or service.
Wholesale Buyers Versus Retail Customers
Are wholesale buyers and retail customers really different? Frankly, there are two answers to this question: yes and no. Yes, because they are different from the buyers and those selling to buyers' point of view and no, because the principles that apply are the same for both types of buying.
Writing The Book On Great Customer Service
Q: One of the big chain bookstores recently opened up near my small book store. Already I can see my business starting to decline.
Customer Service and Call Center Outsourcing, Whats The Buzz?
The buzz is all about customer service and call center outsourcing, also known as BPO (Business Process Outsourcing). According to Gartner, the outsourcing market in Europe has grown with over 6%, BPO with 10%.
Ten Ways to Help You Improve Your Customer Service
1. Stay in contact with customers on a regular basis.
|home | site map ||