Customer Service Training – The Chaser
Have you ever been hung up on?  What do you do when a customer hangs up on you? Being in Customer Service & Sales for the last 10+ years, I've had my share of people hanging up on me.  Over time I've learned the art of the "Call Back".  I've integrated this into my customer service training after perfecting it on the phones. Is the customer not getting their way?  Is the conversa...
Call Customer Service
Are you an angry customer? Do you have angry clients calling you? Which ever side of the fence you're on, LISTEN UP! Whether you call customer service, visit a service business, or you are the business in question, we all need to work together to improve the experience of doing business. Call Customer Service On a call to customer service, you usually have an agenda. ie. There's a reason you...
My Customers have a Problem
Have you ever felt like your customers don't get you? They just don't understand the service you're providing? They keep calling in upset or frustrated? Your customer loyalty is non existent? You get BBB complaints every other day, chargebacks on the off days, and your Google SERP is loaded with bad reviews? Don't worry! That doesn't necessarily mean that you and your Customer Service re...
Dealing with Client’s Perception
Perception is key in any exchange.  Given the same situation or set of choices, one can make very different decisions based off of the perception they're given. Often when we are working with our customers, we need to modify perception through our messaging and branding of both our product and our customer service. Sheena Iyengar studies how people choose (and what makes us think we're go...
RE: How to diffuse an angry customer
Today I read a post on Service Untitled, How to diffuse an angry customer.  Cheryl talks about the poor service shown by a local shoe store and some great ideas to improve it. It is important to hear the person out and thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention. Call back the customer because it is important to preserve the relationship and keep her as a customer. T...
How Valuable are your Customers?
I often find myself in a situation where I'm deciding how much effort should be put into keeping or saving a client. My accounting department would say, "hold them to the contract because they agreed to it!" Though my accounting team has a good point (they're trying to keep our business viable), is the next few months of payment, their cancellation fee, or their initial purchase really all t...

Customer Service Training – The Chaser

Have you ever been hung up on?  What do you do when a customer hangs up on you? Being in Customer Service & Sales for the last 10+ years, I've had my share of people hanging up o ...Read More

Call Customer Service

Are you an angry customer? Do you have angry clients calling you? Which ever side of the fence you're on, LISTEN UP! Whether you call customer service, visit a service business, or you ar ...Read More

My Customers have a Problem

Have you ever felt like your customers don't get you? They just don't understand the service you're providing? They keep calling in upset or frustrated? Your customer loyalty is non ex ...Read More

Dealing with Client’s Perception

Perception is key in any exchange.  Given the same situation or set of choices, one can make very different decisions based off of the perception they're given. Often when we are worki ...Read More

Customer Service Training – The Chaser

Posted By: Micah on June 7, 2011 in Customer Care, Customer Service Training, Featured - Comments: No Comments »

Customer Service

End Call

Have you ever been hung up on?  What do you do when a customer hangs up on you?

Being in Customer Service & Sales for the last 10+ years, I’ve had my share of people hanging up on me.  Over time I’ve learned the art of the “Call Back”.  I’ve integrated this into my customer service training after perfecting it on the phones.

Is the customer not getting their way?  Is the conversation too heated?  Is this a way for the customer to show dominance over the phone call?

Most people I’ve talked with assume that at this point, you’ve lost the customer or the ruined any opportunity to salvage the situation.

NOT TRUE!

But you do need to be careful moving forward.  Let me introduce “the Chaser”.  Follow the steps below for the best chance of success:

The Chaser

1. Check your ego at the door

Mahan Khalsa describes this concept very well in Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play. “…our ego is focused on gettting our needs met…it interferes with clear, objective thinking…[and] our ego can blur the focus”

More likely than not, our ego is what got us in this situation in the first place.  If not checked at the door, this next conversation will end up worse than before.  We must avoid taking offense to what has been said and the audacity of the hang up.  Only then will this tactic work.  If you are unable to do this, STOP!  Leave this technique to more experienced reps who can control their ego and can realize the benefits of this tactic.

2. Call back within 10-30 seconds

Timing is everything.  When you take a shot & chase it with a better tasting drink, you do it immediately so you can avoid the bad taste.  If you don’t execute this chaser immediately, the customer will lose the taste for the situation and give up, closing all windows of opportunity to save the situation.  This means you need to think fast, check your ego immediately, and be ready to roll with anything.

3. Reset, move toward your goal

Now that the phone is ringing, make sure you’re ready to insert yourself quickly in order to reset the situation and start off on the right foot.  Here are a few ice breakers that have worked well for me:

“Hi ___.  Sorry, I think we were disconnected.  I wanted to make sure we finished resolving this.”

“Hi ___.  We were getting a little heated there.  Lets start over.  {restate the issue}”

“Hi ___.  I didn’t mean for that call to get so crazy.  Let’s get down to brass tax.”

In every situation you are demonstrating confidence in resolving this situation and it sets you up for your resolution pitch.  Time to close the deal.

In my experience, though scary, these call backs usually end up with a much better resolution than a customer leaving on a bad note.  With the proper customer service training, you can execute this to perfection.  At the very least, you are able to ensure they leave the situation with a brighter or more acceptable taste in their mouth.  At the very best, you salvage the relationship and continue serving a loyal customer.

Call Customer Service

Posted By: Micah on August 18, 2010 in Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service Training, Featured - Comments: No Comments »

Call Customer ServiceAre you an angry customer? Do you have angry clients calling you? Which ever side of the fence you’re on, LISTEN UP! Whether you call customer service, visit a service business, or you are the business in question, we all need to work together to improve the experience of doing business.

Call Customer Service

On a call to customer service, you usually have an agenda. ie. There’s a reason you’re calling. On the otherside, as a customer service rep, you’re there to understand the agenda being presented and provide solutions. Simple right?

THEN WHY IS EVERYBODY YELLING!?!

Just kidding, not everyone yells, but hopefully you get my point. Why is this interaction so touchy? Chips are on shoulders, we’re walking on thin ice, you can cut the tension with a knife, etc. Why do we have to tip-toe around and be so scared to have this interaction? When there is a problem, it should be voiced, addressed, and resolved. Bing-Bang-Boom. Done.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should. A recent call to DirecTV’s Customer Service shows both what should and shouldn’t happen. I noticed incorrect charges on my bill so I called in with an agenda: get those removed from my bill. After holding for a short time, I got a gentleman with a heavy accent and what seemed to be an annoyed tone. We exchanged salutations and I started telling him what my issue was. Before I was finished, he cut me off, saying he needed my account number before we proceed–really? you need it before I proceed to tell you my issue? really? I gave him my phone number and we went through verifying my account. Afterward, he asked me what I had called in about. I was fairly frustrated because I had already told him part of it and we wouldn’t have to go through this question again if he had but listened. After listening, he said that he couldn’t help me. WTF. WTF. Why would you waste my time like that?

–TIME OUT!–
So what we see so far is the situation I’ve been complaining about. A call to customer service with an agenda, the rep failing to acknowledge the agenda and ultimately wasting time and not taking care of the issue. Chips are now flying off of shoulders, people are getting angry, and the situation is going to hell in a hand-basket.
–Time In!–

After wasting my time, I ask to speak to someone who can help me since the person I’m speaking to is obviously incompetent. I’m transfered to a cheerful woman who asks me how my day is going. I tell her my issue and she apologizes, asks for my account info, solves the problem by crediting my account in the same amount and correcting the issue that caused it in the first place. While there was down time, she asked me about my interest in sports (evident by the package I purchased) and continued a conversation about college football teams in my area. She completed the call after hearing my agenda — at this point it was not just the incorrect billing but it was also the annoyance of speaking to an incompetent person earlier, addressing it — she acknowledged my billing issue and the annoyance in my voice, and resolving it — she made me feel important for calling and showed that she cared by finding out something about me and having a decent conversation, and she took care of the billing issue.

Thanks to the DirecTV experience, we see both ends of the spectrum. Whenever we call customer service, we should always see three things happen with our problems: we should be able to voice them, they should be addressed, and they should be resolved. If this happens, we won’t see chips falling off shoulders, instead the chips will stop showing up all together and we can all live in a civilized world of service.

My Customers have a Problem

Posted By: Micah on August 5, 2010 in Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service Training, Featured - Comments: 1 Comment »

Customer Satisfaction

Confused Customers

Have you ever felt like your customers don’t get you? They just don’t understand the service you’re providing? They keep calling in upset or frustrated? Your customer loyalty is non existent? You get BBB complaints every other day, chargebacks on the off days, and your Google SERP is loaded with bad reviews?

Don’t worry! That doesn’t necessarily mean that you and your Customer Service reps suck….
…uh
…actually
…maybe it does.
But still, never fear! You can fix that! My “easy” 2 step process will get you, your customer service reps, and your company back on it’s feet:

Customer Loyalty Building Blocks

Every Customer Care or Customer Service Team needs the right attitude & strategy to improve client perception. If you’re in the situation above, you’re either lacking one or all of these.  Also, if you’re going to try to fix your public opinion, you may want to review some do’s and don’ts of responding in public forums.  But before you do that, let’s take care of the underlying problems:

Right Attitude

I’m going to avoid the whole Service with a Smile discussion because it has become so cliche. In fact, most of your reps probably won’t believe it anyway. So instead, lets discuss what that really means.

Service with a Smile

Service with a Smile

First and foremost, it means that when your talking with someone using only vocal ques (no body language/facial expression) the inflection used and the words selected are the only way to convey emotion. This emotion can be positive or negative (Despite popular belief, there is no neutral ground here. You’re either moving one way or the other) Many of my reps have claimed to be able to display the positive emotion even though they don’t have a smile. Though some people feel that they can act enough to win an academy award, it’s much easier to just be happy to begin with.

So how do we get them to be happy? Well, some have tried throwing money at them (raises/bonuses), others have put incentives or perks in place (parties, free lunch), but I think Tony Hsieh has has really hit the nail on the head by attacking the root issue.  Tony is the CEO of Zappos which, in my opinion, has one of the best customer experiences in the world. If you take a chance to tour his company, you’ll notice that everyone there truly loves to work there, truly cares for each other, and truly cares about their customers.  They simply foster a culture of Happiness.

If you’re able to foster this type of culture, the rest will come easy. If you’re not there yet, figure this out before you move on! Here are some places for you to start: Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, & How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Strategy

Alright. Now that everyone is happy, lets discuss some strategy. How are we going to approach our angry customers? Here’s a list of how to get things done.

  1. Identify
    • Peel the onion
      • Most people don’t offer up the real problem to begin with. They usually bring up one issue, but without getting down to the real problem, you’ll never really solve the issue. So, ask questions understand what the root cause is. Then take care of both the issue brought up & the root cause.
    • Define the problem
      • What issues has the customer brought up?
      • Which ones are related?
      • How do they relate to your processes
      • Which processes, lack of process, or broken process caused these issues?
      • Finally, restate the issues with your new understanding.
      • Repeat this step as necessary
  2. Resolve
    • In order to resolve a situation, we need to be creative, and persuasive. You should have already identified the type of client you are working with. Now you need to pull out those sales skills and show them the value of your resolution.
      • Your Customer Service reps should be as skilled or better skilled at sales than your sales team.
      • Remember, all value is perceived.
      • Make sure it’s a win-win situation: the customer perceives that they will receive all or most of the benefit, and you win by keeping their business.
      • Finally, let them decide
    • Execute
      • Nothing is actually resolved until the plan is executed and the customer regains their confidence in your staff, your products, and your company.
  3. Learn
    • Stop Hitting Me!
      • My mom always told me, “If you were really sorry, you wouldn’t do it again.” Make sure the processes/issues that caused this are fixed so this doesn’t happen again.
    • Show me the love.
      • Relationships aren’t completely repaired in one interaction. It takes time and successful execution. Use this time to show the customer what you think of them (send thank you cards, hit them with some random promotions, etc.)
    • Finally, deposit into the bank of trust.
      • The more positive experiences you have with the customer, the more leeway you’re given when an issue pops up in the future.

With the right attitude and the right strategy, you now have the right base to start an excellent customer service experience.

Dealing with Client’s Perception

Posted By: Micah on July 28, 2010 in Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service Training, Featured - Comments: 3 Comments »


Customer Perception

Sheena Iyengar

Perception is key in any exchange.  Given the same situation or set of choices, one can make very different decisions based off of the perception they’re given. Often when we are working with our customers, we need to modify perception through our messaging and branding of both our product and our customer service.

Sheena Iyengar studies how people choose (and what makes us think we’re good at it).  In her address during  July 2010 TED Conference: Sheena Iyengar on the art of choosing she had a small question and answer.  During this Q & A, she discussed how people perceived nail polish colors and how that affected their decision:

Well, it’s funny that you should ask that, because one of the things that’s interesting about being blind is you actually get a different vantage point when you observe the way sighted people make choices. And as you just mentioned, there’s lots of choices out there that are very visual these days. Yeah, I — as you would expect — get pretty frustrated by choices like what nail polish to put on, because I have to rely on what other people suggest. And I can’t decide. And so one time I was in a beauty salon, and I was trying to decide between two very light shades of pink. And one was called “Ballet Slippers.” And the other one was “Adorable.” (Laughter) And so I asked these two ladies. And the one lady told me, “Well, you should definitely wear ‘Ballet Slippers.'” “Well, what does it look like?” “Well, it’s a very elegant shade of pink.” “Okay, great.” The other lady tells me to wear “Adorable.” “What does it look like?” “It’s a glamorous shade of pink.” And so I asked them, “Well, how do I tell them apart? What’s different about them?” And they said, “Well, one is elegant, the other one’s glamorous.” Okay, we got that. And the only thing they had consensus on: well, if I could see them, I would clearly be able to tell them apart.
(Laughter)
“And what I wondered was whether they were being affected by the name or the contents of the color. So I decided to do a little experiment. So I brought these two bottles of nail polish into the laboratory, and I stripped the labels off. And I brought women into the laboratory, and I asked them, “Which one would you pick?” 50 percent of the women accused me of playing a trick, of putting the same color nail polish in both those bottles. (Laughter) (Applause) At which point you start to wonder who the trick’s really played on. Now of the women that could tell them apart, when the labels were off, they picked “Adorable,” and when the labels were on they picked “Ballet Slippers.” So as far as I can tell, a rose by any other name probably does look different and maybe even smells different.

“The choice that Sheena presented the ladies were two very similar shades of pink.  half couldn’t tell the difference, and the other half who could, made a different decision based off of the perception or the name of the color.  As she states, “a rose by any other name probably does look different and maybe even smells different.”

The same thing can be applied to our clients.  The products or services that we provide, simply by branding it differently or presenting it differently, can increase the perceived value and therefore can increase the customer satisfaction.

Similarly, any escalated situation, presented & branded properly through messaging and perception, we can turn into a positive and relationship building interaction.

Value is Subjective

Rory Sutherland (the Ad man) Spoke in 2009 at Ted on how people have used perception to accomplish their goals.

Rory mentions that all value is subjective. With that in mind, what value are our customers really getting? Is it just the product? If so, I would recommend adding value to it. Not necessarily by adding a feature or improving the process. Why not improve the perception? Make your clients feel like they are getting way more than they are paying for.  The same thing should be said of your service tactics. As you resolve issues for customers, use proper messaging and branding to give them the perception of increased value.  This will improve their satisfaction and therefore their loyalty as a client.

Custom Service for your Customer Service

Posted By: Micah on July 26, 2011 in Customer Service Training - Comments: No Comments »

I hear a lot of commentary and discussion on how to diffuse an angry customer.  Generally, they have some basic principles that should be adhered to in any situation.

  1. Active Listening
    • including restates, investigation questions, and venting time.
  2. Identify Interests
    • these are generally the underlying reasons that the customer is asking for a specific solution.
  3. Present Solutions
    • these should be mutually beneficial options that will realistically satisfy.
  4. Execute/Follow up
    • this means you must actually do what you committed to.

What I feel is missing from most of the commentary is how to apply these principles to an individual situation.

I quote the following study in some of my customer service training material.

http://news.byu.edu/archive07-OCT-christensen.aspx

 

Basically the study tells us that there are 3 types of people:

  • Relational
  • Oppositional
  • Utilitarian

It also discusses ways to diagnose the customer and ways to treat them.  Once you understand who you’re talking to, you can apply the principles above in a much more effective manner.

For instance, lets assume your customer is demanding a refund and blaming you for failing to give them what was promised.  This customer is trying to make things personal and maybe even attacking you.  You should first identify them as an oppositional customer (aggressive, grumpy, blaming, demanding).  During the active listening phase you should let them vent and describe their demands.  As part of active listening, you should include questions that begin to understand the interests behind their demands.

“I understand you’re interested in a refund.  I’d like to understand a little more about your situation.  Are you still in need of shoes?…Were you able to find a different service carrier?…What was your original need for this product?”

Once you’ve identified the underlying reasons/interests that back his demand for a refund, we can now present a creative solution that will satisfy his real interests and avoid the unwanted refund.

“I can definitely understand how frustrating it is to open your shoes and not be able to wear them.  Let me know which of these options sound most appealing…”

“I can understand why you’re interested in a different carrier because that important call dropped.  Here are some options we can move forward with to avoid cancellation fees…”

“I understand you still need the product.  Here are some discount options that will help you walk away with what you need…”

While presenting solutions, make sure you get their input and their sign-off before moving forward.  Then ensure you execute.

Similar processes can be followed when dealing with a relational and utilitarian customer. You can find case studies in a free download of my customer service training manual.

RE: How to diffuse an angry customer

Posted By: Micah on July 28, 2010 in Customer Care, Customer Service Training, Featured - Comments: No Comments »

Angry Customer

Angry Customer

Today I read a post on Service Untitled, How to diffuse an angry customer.  Cheryl talks about the poor service shown by a local shoe store and some great ideas to improve it.

  • It is important to hear the person out and thank the customer for bringing the problem to your attention.
  • Call back the customer because it is important to preserve the relationship and keep her as a customer. Thank her for giving you the opportunity to help her and apologize for her dissatisfaction, even if she is wrong.
  • Look at each complaint as special since each customer can amount to more business and be prepared to modify standardized procedures when exceptions present themselves as practical and realistic.
  • Explain to the customer what can be done to rectify the situation…Consumers do not want to be scolded; they want their problems solved.

A comment from one of her readers reminded me of some experiences & thoughts I’ve had while helping customers (emphasis added):

“…It would send the message you’re doing what the company is telling you to do without giving it your own personal touch and empathy.
The above-and-beyond way complaints are sometimes handled may satisfy customers in the short term, but makes them adjust their expectations for the future upwards. In the end that leads to unrealistic expectations.
In the example above, if the customer were allowed to return the shoes without the box, next time she would maybe return only one shoe, because the heel broke off and she threw one away already. If that were allowed, she might return next time with only the receipt and no shoes and still expect her money back. That may sound silly, but I’m afraid that is what this world is coming too.

I struggle with both views, because as a Customer Care Manager, I want to do everything I can to keep my customers and get them to speak positively of me and my company. On the other hand, I don’t want to give away the farm. Am I supposed to keep giving into customer demands until I drive my business into the ground?

To Be or Not To Be

So which side are you supposed to stand on? I would debate that neither side is the right side. Giving into the customer and showing them excessive courtesy can fix the issue and relationship in the short term but long term, it’s generally not scalable and will come back to bite you. Not giving up any ground, being short and condescending hurts your relationship in the short term and, again, can bite you in the end because you’ve lost any loyalty you may have had.

I apply this to any other relationship in our lives. In certain cases you can be one extreme or the other, and you’ll end up just fine. Take for instance growing up with a sibling. You can be a complete jerk to them, get in fights, and out right hate each other one day. The next day, you’re playing like nothing happened. Similarly, you can do something totally over-the-top nice for them, and the next day you’re fighting as if it never happened.

As we grow up, we start treating our relationships a little differently. Take another instance: dating & courtship. As we run into issues, we can be over-the-top apologetic and get through it in the short term, but is the issue actually resolved? Or are we now expected to spend $500 every valentines day? On the other hand, we can resolve the issue by being short, even verbally abusive, but the resolution may get resolved or it may just end up in a nasty breakup with suit cases flying out of windows and compromising pictures showing up on facebook(…awkward).

Successful courtship & a healthy relationship requires attraction, loyalty, sacrifice, and proper communication from both sides. Proper communication includes resolution tactics that identify, resolve, & learn from each issue/situation. Just as many of our dating lives aren’t perfect (some farther from perfect than others), the business-to-customer dating life often isn’t perfect either. To be successful, both sides need to sacrifice to resolve issues. So here is how we resolve issues:

Identify

In order to rectify a situation, you need to know what the situation is. Often times a conversation will start out with one issue or concern in the forefront, but will fail to address the underlying issues that caused it in the first place. Both need to be resolved, but if you want to avoid the situation again, you really need to find out what the underlying issue is.

Resolve

Now that you’ve figured out what the problem is, let’s resolve it. This needs to happen through sacrifice. Both sides need to sacrifice in order to get to a win-win situation. Unfortunately, the customer has usually already sacrificed (at least they feel that way). They’ve usually paid out some $$$ and feel wronged because of the situation. That means it’s the companies turn to sacrifice. Not so much that it will kill the business, but enough so the customer feels like their sacrifice is met and we can move forward. Also, once promises are made, execution is critical. The biggest part of the resolution is the follow through.

Learn

Ok, now that we’ve put a plan in place, let’s not go through that again! It’s time to take a personal inventory of our processes to make sure we don’t have another customer in that situation. (especially not the same customer!) When our processes are taken care of, it’s time to get back to business as usual. ie. dealing with the next set of issues that are thrown on our plate.

Here is an updated post on how to diffuse and angry customer.

Do you hang out with your Clients?

Posted By: Micah on July 27, 2010 in Customer Care, Customer Loyalty, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service Training - Comments: 1 Comment »

Customer Service and Relationships

Getting PWND

Hanging with the Boys

Every Friday night my buddies come over for video game night.  — That’s probably a little more information than I should share. But now you know…I’m a nerd. — During that night we usually hook our Xboxes up to a LAN and plan games over Xbox Live…and get PWND by a bunch of twelve-year-olds.  My wife (as you probably are now) have questioned why we do this at our age.  Quite frankly, it’s because we have fun hanging out with each other.  We laugh, make jokes, curse at the TV & in general, have a great time.  We do the same thing with College Football, Basketball, BBQs and any other reason to get together and hang out.  The point is, we look for reasons to hang out with each other because we enjoy the company.

Hanging out with Customer Service

Let’s contrast that with the relationship we have with our clients.  It seems like every Friday night, 10-15 minutes before closing time, one of our clients calls in to our customer service line.  Generally, they aren’t laughing or making jokes; however, they do tend to curse (or at least they want to).  They’re usually not calling in to spend some quality time building a personal relationship, rather they are calling in because the feel like something isn’t right.

Unfortunately, they are very correct.  Something isn’t right.  They are forcing communication, communication that should have been there prior to this call.

On occasion, one of my friends will have issues with me, or visa-versa.  We are usually able to get over it extremely quickly and move on with our lives.  The reason for this is because we’ve spent so much time hanging out.  We know we don’t need to take something personally because we trust the other person.  A mentor of mine called this the “bank of trust”.

Bank of Trust

Every time my buddies and I have an interaction, we either make a deposit or a withdrawal from the bank of trust. Every night my buddies get together to have video game night, we all make a deposit to this bank of trust with each other. As our balance increases, our trust of that individual increases and we feel less anxiety when they require our trust. ie, should I let my buddy borrow my car? should I let him watch my house while I’m on vacation? etc. On the other hand, if we have a negative interaction, we end up taking a withdrawal from the bank. ie. if my friend broke my couch during game night, or if he dinged my car when he was borrowing it.

Customer Service isn’t so different. Every time we have an interaction, we’re either making a deposit or taking a withdrawal from the bank of trust. So back to the late Friday call, this is generally the customer showing us that we’re withdrawing again and our balance is getting close to zero or maybe even in the overdraft (customer cancellation).

So what can we do to avoid overdraft fees? Well, just like your bank, you need to add more money to the account. In order to do this, you need to have positive interactions with your clients. Not just answering their call, not just contacting them now and again, but you need real positive interactions. I get to know my buddies birthdays, their family, what’s going on in their life, all through the time we spend hanging out. Why not do the same with your client? Next time you’re on a strategy call, find out who they are, when is their birthday, what are their hobbies? Share with them what yours are. On the next call, follow up on what you found out. This personal interaction will make large deposits into your account and can be the saving grace when you break their couch, dent their car, mess up on their campaign, etc.

How Valuable are your Customers?

Posted By: Micah on July 22, 2010 in Customer Care, Customer Loyalty, Customer Service Training, Featured - Comments: 2 Comments »

Customer Retention

Saving Clinets

I often find myself in a situation where I’m deciding how much effort should be put into keeping or saving a client. My accounting department would say, “hold them to the contract because they agreed to it!” Though my accounting team has a good point (they’re trying to keep our business viable), is the next few months of payment, their cancellation fee, or their initial purchase really all the customer is worth?

The community will give you a resounding “NO!” The Harvard Business School Published an article nearly 10 years ago discussing what a customer is worth.  They mention two things that every customer reliant business (ie. every business) should remember.

  • First, the internet is a very cost effective way for you to market.  This means that your competitors have a very cost effective way to market as well.
  • Second, “as customers gain near-perfect information on their alternatives, switching barriers are dropping dramatically.”  This was written ten years ago and I would say that the barriers are nearly invisible at this point.

Customer Loyalty is constantly diminished with the ease at which they find other viable options out there. Clients and consumers will find better prices than yours, they’ll find better products than yours, and they’ll show you no concern as your competition whisks them away.

A point that the Harvard article failed to touch on (probably because it has only become much more prominent over the last few years) is the speed & reach of word of mouth.  So that’s going up as my third bullet point here.

  • Third, Social Media is dominating the online traffic and provides users the fastest and broadest reach for word of mouth.

Here’s a fun video that illustrates the speed and power of social media:

This means that a bad customer experience can and will probably be in the hands of hundreds, even thousands in a matter a few minutes. Many of those people can and should be potential customers. Many will be current customers.

So what are the options at this point?  Do you need to bend over backwards for every client?  Do you need to cater to every need at the client’s whim?

The phrase, “the client is always right” has never been more correct than it is today.  However, that doesn’t mean that you have to go out of business trying to satisfy clients. But we’ll talk about diffusing angry customers in another post.

Right now let’s recap how valuable a customer is.  My accounting department sees the initial value: the clients purchase/monthly subscription.  The rest of my company, especially my marketing and service teams, need to look at the value of the client relationship (again another post).  That relationship will keep that customer coming to you rather than your competitors, AND all of their friends/followers, their friends/followers, their friends/followers, etc.

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