Astute Planning, Flawless Execution,
Delighted Customers

Issue #142

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Thriving While Others Hunker Down

In this edition of our newsletter, we share the second installment of a two-part article about implementing Customer Feedback for short-term benefit. In the previous issue, we discussed two benefits: reinforcing key relationships and providing positive customer experiences. We conclude the article with the presentation of some additional benefits.

In addition, we'd like to recommend MyCustomer.com article How businesses can increase customer confidence during uncertain times, written by Keith Pearce.

Finally, we recently published a new whitepaper on The Role of Feedback Management in Becoming Customer Centric.

Let us help you become more customer centric! Contact us if we can help you with Customer Feedback Management or any other program to help you survive, and thrive, during these difficult times.

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


Customer 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.

Identify " Immediate Action" Situations/Opportunities

One of the nearly immediate benefits of launching a survey-based customer feedback program (with the right tools), is that some customer situations are typically identified which call for immediate action. If your survey tool supports feedback segmentation and "follow-up", you can then take direct and immediate action with these customers. These situations tend to fall into a few categories:

  • Very unhappy customers who have clearly expressed their dissatisfaction.
    By openly expressing dissatisfaction in a survey, customers are providing good-faith feedback. If you take quick advantage of this opportunity (i.e. within days, while the survey experience is fresh), you can often solve the problem and "convert" a customer to fully satisfied with little effort. Being this responsive to customer dissatisfaction is unusual and it takes some preparation, but such a direct and rapid response shows serious concern for your customers and can have an immediate and positive impact on the customer base.
  • Satisfied customers who are looking to buy more from you (that you were unaware of).
    Another opportunity for immediate action are those customers who express or somehow indicate in the survey that they have additional needs or would like buy more from you. By asking for feedback, you are coincidentally uncovering new sales opportunities that you may not otherwise have found out about for some time. This has particular relevance in businesses using channel partners where you may not have visibility into all sales activities.
  • Quickly surface problems in your processes, products, etc., that are impacting your customers.
    Most problems will eventually find their way to your attention, but how many customers will have left you in the meantime? Asking for direct feedback will get you direct feedback, problems and all, and finding problems early before customers defect is like finding a solid gold nugget.

Signal to your employees what's really important (and being measured)

One of the major near-term benefits of initiating a feedback management program is that it sends a very clear signal to everyone in the organization that customer perceptions are critically important. If this isn't already part of your business "culture", it will be once you start measuring and tracking the feedback. It usually involves some employee education and communication efforts, but the gist of the message to employees is simple and clear:

  • Customers' perceptions of their experience matter! They pay the bills and if they're not happy, they can easily go elsewhere. The success of the organization is potentially at risk!
  • It's everyone's job! Customer perceptions affect the entire organization, so everyone needs to be sensitive to customer experience feedback. Some have a more direct impact on customers than others, but it's critical to the firm and therefore everyone's concern.
  • It's important enough to management that it will be measured regularly and systematically! The firm is asking the customers to give them a regular "report card" on critical elements of the business (including employee performance). If problems surface they will get management attention and will be addressed.
Conclusion

"Customer feedback management" or "customer experience" programs designed to measure and quantify your customers' opinions and attitudes are often incorrectly perceived as "long-term" efforts which don't deliver near-term benefits. It's true that the "best of class" feedback programs are ongoing efforts which provide long-term strategic value to the organization. However, even getting started with a customer feedback initiative can provide surprisingly quick opportunities to positively influence your customers, and your bottom line. And in a weak economic environment where customers are at risk, it's more important than ever that you make customer feedback a basic part of your operation. You will typically see some very real short term benefits that will help assure that you'll be in business for the long term.

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:

"Our organization needed to move from a process-centric to a customer-centric focus. We engaged Craig Bailey and Customer Centricity to assist us in moving in the right direction while simultaneously controlling costs and preserving resources. Phase I of the project was an organization assessment and implementation plan. We are very pleased with the outcome of Phase I and feel that the results were well worth the investment.

Much of the success of this project is due to Craig's skill and approach. The
fact that the staff responded so enthusiastically is a testament to his ability to make them feel comfortable, ask them the right questions and to express the intention of improvement rather than criticism.

The true proof of our satisfaction with Craig's services is that we will be engaging him to oversee our Phase II implementation project. I'm looking forward to our next steps and to moving forward to customer centricity!"


Kristy Wright
President/CEO
VNA, Western Pennsylvania


About Customer Centricity, Inc.
We strengthen overall company performance through better service delivery and management.

We boost efficiencies in front-line customer service and technical support teams, order processing, fulfillment, field service, logistics and other key operations functions.

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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