CEOs Don’t Care About Customer Service …

CEOs care about sales and the bottom line.

I was told that the other day and I suppose there are some CEO’s, some business owners, managers and supervisors who consider customer service ‘fluffy’.  And that’s really too bad, because customer service has a direct impact on bottom line.  Just take a look at the following statistics:

  • A 5% increase in customer retention increases profits up to 125% – Bain & Company
  • A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy and Mark Murphy
  • 89% of consumers purchase from a competitor following a poor customer experience – Harris Interactive, 2011 Customer Experience Improvement study
  • It costs 6 times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one – Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner

Sales and marketing, an important piece of any business plan, needs to be supported by a strong customer service plan.  Leaving service to chance results in lost sales and lost revenue.  Fortunately, there are a whole lot of CEO’s, business owners, managers and supervisors who understand the importance of customer service to their bottom line; they don’t leave customer service to chance.

Delivering good to great customer service on a consistent basis takes time and planning.  When I work with companies committed to improving their customer’s experience, we look at the following areas:

Creating a strong service culture takes more than a one day training session.  Training is important but is only one piece of a larger puzzle.  A strong service plan is based on clearly defined standards based on customer expectations.  It’s about realizing that at some point something will go wrong and putting a plan in place to manage that moment. It means clearly identifying the knowledge, the skills and most importantly, the attitude of each individual working within your service team.  And last but not least, it means putting a plan in place to provide excellent internal customer service, to make each person on your team recognize their role within the customer’s experience and to make work about more than work.

2013 is quickly coming to a close and 2014 is almost upon us. This is a great time to work with your service team and develop a strategy that will get people talking about your business positively.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Click here for more information on the two-day “Customer Service from the Inside Out” workshop or if interested in speaking to Laurie about how she can help you develop a strong customer service strategy, call her at 204-995-5836 or email.

Are You in the Customer Service Industry?

Only about 26% of companies have a well-developed strategy in place focused on improving the customer experience.  One reason, although not the only reason, is because some companies don’t think of themselves as being in the customer service business.

Why do I say that? Because I’ve heard each of the three phrases below:

  • “We don’t need a customer service strategy. We don’t sell to the public.”
  • “We’re not in (pick one of the following: retail, food service, tourism) so I don’t see how one would help us.”
  • “Our sector is different.”

Guess what ? It doesn’t matter if you’re not selling shoes, burgers or hotel rooms … you are in the service industry! Perhaps your customers aren’t called customers.  Perhaps your customers are called:

  • Members
  • Patients
  • Clients
  • Unit holders
  • Civilians
  • Citizens

Perhaps instead of selling a burger, gourmet dinner, shoes, clothes or place to stay for a night or you two, you sell:

  • Club or association memberships
  • Advice (a.k.a. peace of mind) related to health, finances, law, etc.
  • Products that other companies need to make their product

Regardless of what you call your customers, you have them.  Without members, clubs and associations die.  Lousy service to unit holders means condo boards looks for a different management company.

It doesn’t matter if you are the first, the middle or the final link in the supply chain, you have a customer.  And that means you need to put a plan in place to keep them coming back to you, instead of going to another lawyer, doctor, dentist, investor, supplier, manufacturer or yes, hotel, restaurant or retail outlet.

Your customers needs, wants and expectations may be unique to your industry but the foundation for creating a strong customer service strategy is the same:

  1. Know your customers and create service standards based on their wants, needs and expectations.
  2. Identify where and how you can exceed those expectations.
  3. Identify where you could potentially fail to meet those expectations and put a plan in place to eliminate the risk or minimize the damage.
  4. Hire and train a strong service team.
  5. Create and implement a strong internal customer service strategy.
Excellent customer service builds loyalty and customer retention.  One more stat to wrap up … a 2%increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by 10%. (Leading on the Edge of Chaos, Emmet Murphy and Mark Murphy).  It makes good business sense to focus on creating a positive experience for your customer, regardless of what your customer is called.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

To speak to Laurie about creating a customer service strategy for your business, call her at 204-995-5836 or click here for a free consult.   If you’re in Winnipeg or the surrounding area, a two day workshop, as part of the ‘New Era of Influence’ is being offered.  Click here for more information.

Introducing Harried Harriet

Last week, I introduced you to Horrible Harry. His less than stellar management skills have led to low morale, high turnover and negative customer service comments in his department. (If you didn’t get a chance to meet him, click here.)

As easy as it would be to put all responsibility for the rather dismal state of his department on Horrible Harry, the reality is he reports to Harried Harriet. Where is Harried Harriet?  Does she not know what is happening? If she is aware, why is nothing being done?

As it turns out, Harried Harriet is fully aware of the challenges and issues in Horrible Harry’s department.  She has personally witnessed his bad behaviour. She reads the negative customer comments, but she is just too busy to deal with Horrible Harry right now.  Harried Harriet is frantically trying to find ways to cut costs and get new customers in the door because revenue and profit margins are not where they need to be.   She simply does not have time to take Horrible Harry aside and speak to him about the damage he is doing to his department and the business overall.  She simply does not have time to coach Horrible Harry on how to be a better manager.

I know … you saw it too, didn’t you?  If Harried Harriet focused on the root cause of low morale and high turnover, chances are customer service and customer retention rates would improve.  That would mean less time and effort would be needed to bring new customers in the door to try and replace all the unhappy ones that left, never to return again.  That might also mean services wouldn’t have to be cut because the demand for them would increase.

So where are we now?  You’ve met Horrible Harry, who reports to Harried Harriet.  But wait.  We’re not done.  Next week, I’ll introduce you to Waffling Walter, Harried Harriet’s boss.

P.S. To all the Happy, Helpful Harry’s and Harriet’s out there, thank you for all the good work you do!