Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #141

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Thriving While Others Hunker Down

Yes, the news on the economic climate continues to be grim. Yes, costs must be brought in line to ensure the enterprise remains afloat. Yes, this presents an opportunity for you!

Some "less fortunate" firms have decided to slash customer feedback programs. This is YOUR OPPORTUNITY to pave the way to excel in the current environment, positioning your firm to come out the other side stronger than ever (and stronger than your competition)! First, I can understand the need to drop customer feedback programs when they provide little to no value to the organization. However, when your customer feedback program (such as what is delivered by Customer Centricity) provides concrete results including reinforcing what you do well, identifying opportunities for improvement and defining pragmatic action plans to improve the customer experience and operational performance, these programs become "table stakes" for remaining in business. Not to mention the fact that you remain "front and center" in the eyes of your customer as they acknowledge your continuing efforts to seek their input as you (together) navigate these tumultuous waters.

In this spirit we share the first article in a two-part series on: Customer Feedback for Short Term Impact!

Tough Business Environment? Try Customer Feedback for Short Term Impact! (Part 1 of 2)
By Cedric Nash

Most business managers would agree on the value of systematically collecting and using customer feedback. Few would argue that it's not a good thing to know as much as possible about your customers' perceptions and attitudes regarding your firm's products or services. So why then don't more firms make the effort and relatively modest investment to systematically monitor, measure and act on customer feedback?

Some smaller firms simply don't see the need. They feel that their informal mechanisms and personal contact with customers provide a stream of feedback. Other firms understand the potential value but aren't ready to make the commitment to both regularly gathering customer feedback and following through with appropriate actions. And they realize that a sporadic effort, or one with no commitment to follow-through, can actually be worse than none at all because false expectations are created.

Yet another reason is that feedback management programs are often viewed as investments with long-term ROI horizons, taking years to deliver quantifiable value to the firm. And in tough economic times they get pushed aside by more urgent budget priorities. This is a misconception. While it's true that gathering and managing customer feedback does indeed deliver great strategic value when done systematically over time, even beginning the process can deliver tangible and significant short term benefits. This two-part article discusses how.

Reinforce relationships with your most valuable, core customers

For many businesses, the 80/20 rule applies when it comes to customers. 80% of revenue/profits come from 20% of customers. This 20% is the critical core of your customer base and you need to do everything possible to retain them when acquiring new customers may be difficult. In other words, you need to ensure that they are completely, 100%, satisfied with your products/services, ideally to the point of being willing to recommend you. And if you find that any of them aren't, you must take quick action to address the source of dissatisfaction.

So how do you do this? If you have a "customer feedback" program or "customer experience" program in place, chances are you already measure and know the current satisfaction/loyalty levels of your core customers. But if you don't, starting such a program can quickly deliver actionable information about your customers' satisfaction and loyalty levels. And if done with the right tools, you can easily segment the data from your "key" customers and focus your efforts on this critical core. Where problems are identified, you have the ability to reach out and correct them. So concerning your core customers, the result of initiating a customer feedback program has multiple near-term benefits:

  • You get solid data indicating the satisfaction/loyalty levels of key customers at a point in time.
  • For already satisfied customers, you've just provided further evidence that you value their business and respect them enough to ask for their feedback.
  • For dissatisfied customers, you have the ability to identify them and directly reach out to them to "Save" them before they leave you for a competitor.

Create a positive customer experience simply by asking for feedback

What if you could contact all your customers in a non-sales mode, demonstrate how you value and respect them, and also portray your brand in a positive manner? In other words, create a positive customer experience that you control. This is an immediate by-product of initiating a survey-based customer feedback program. With a carefully crafted and branded online survey, you are creating a positive customer experience at the same time you are gathering vital data about your customers. Each time you do it (assuming reasonable intervals), you reinforce the notion that you value your relationship enough to ask for feedback. You can also create even more value by sharing some of the survey findings with customers and explaining how their feedback influenced your product or service decisions. It's a real show of respect to close the loop this way, and it reinforces the collaborative nature of your relationship. Some survey tools make this easy to do.

This portion of the article presented some of the near-term benefits of Customer Feedback Management programs. More will be discussed in the next edition of this newsletter.

About QuestBack: QuestBack is an enterprise feedback management tool for gathering, analyzing and acting on feedback from critical constituencies. With unique ASK&ACT TM follow-up capabilities, QuestBack makes customer feedback data immediately actionable and supports the implementation of feedback management processes. The company is based in Europe and represented in the US by QuestBack Boston LLC.

Serving Those (Still) In Need

On Monday, March 2, 2009 the First Baptist Church of Hudson, NH will again be sending a team to Biloxi, MS to work with Habitat for Humanity to help rebuild the Mississippi Gulf coast. This area was ravaged during Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. Nearly 267,000 homes in the Gulf Coast area were either destroyed or damaged in the storm.

Much has been done, but there still remains a great need. At its peak, FEMA placed 44,000 trailers in the area to shelter storm victims. As of June, the last 7,000 occupied trailers were closed, sending hundreds of poor desperately hunting for affordable housing. Katrina's devastation has dropped off the national media radar screen, but we have not forgotten. Rebuilding the infrastructure of the Gulf Coast is an ongoing process and there is still a great deal of work to do. Habitat for Humanity currently requires 1,000 volunteers a week in areas along the Gulf Coast.

Each team member has been deeply affected by previous trips and once again, we are thrilled that we can be a part of this project. You can play a part too, by praying for the team, which is made up of: Ellie Cropley, Al Daigle, Bri Daigle, Torre Daigle, Pastor Jim Harrington, Clarice James, Mike Ledoux, Bruce Mostrom, Terry Mostrom, Tony Rice, Jayce Stella, Jessica Surro and Craig Bailey. Please pray for our protection, safe travel, good health, and ability to bring much needed relief to those who need it.

We are also seeking financial donations. The cost of the trip will be approximately $5,000. Your tax deductable donation can be made securely at: www.firstgiving.com/firstbaptisthudson.

Thanks for your support.

 

Contents

+ Thriving While Others Hunker Down

+ Tough Business Environment? Try Customer Feedback for Short Term Impact!

+ Serving Those (Still) In Need

 


 


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More Satisfied Customers
Check out what some recent customers had to say about their experiences with Customer Centricity:

"Customer service has always been of the utmost importance to the continued success of Soil Away. I have been looking to get my company to next level and to find someone to objectively identify the existing obstacles to our success. Thankfully, Customer Centricity addressed these real-life concerns.

I also want to thank Craig for the extra time he spent interacting with my staff. He turned the presentation of findings from the Customer Service Assessment into a very user-friendly experience that illustrated in very tangible ways the true value of excellent customer service. It is very important to our company that we satisfy the customer's real expectation with each visit.

Overall, I was impressed with Customer Centricity and the very professional, efficient, and reasonable services provided. Thanks to Customer Centricity, customer service will remain a top priority of our company as we plan for our future success. I would gladly recommend Customer Centricity to anyone looking to improve the experience for their customers."


Jack Solloawy
President/Owner
Soil Away, Inc.


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In short, we align the resources of your organization to exceed your customers' expectations in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

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