Perfecting Service Management

Issue #2 Friday, September 20, 2002


topical index

Welcome to this edition of the Customer Centricity newsletter, where we explore ways for you to unlock the value of your customer relationships. The purpose of this newsletter is to deliver value to you in the form of information you can apply in your role as a customer-focused business leader, and provide updates on the happenings of Customer Centricity.

In this issue you will learn the time proven approach for effectively responding to the immediate needs of your customer that are uncovered in the customer satisfaction survey process.


In this issue:
Customer Centricity takes to the air waves

On October 12th, join Craig Bailey, founder of Customer Centricity, on the “Stu Taylor on Business” radio show to learn how you can use excellent customer service to better retain customers and differentiate your business from the competition. The show can be heard throughout the New England area on WBIX Business Radio 1060 AM from 10am to 12 noon.

Customer Centricity In The News

Since the launch of Customer Centricity, in July, we have taken a number of steps to promote awareness of our services and confirming our value proposition in the marketplace. In a nutshell, the message is being VERY well received! In the words of a Vice President, from one of our prospect companies, "there is such a need out there for improved customer service". We are creating momentum "in the news" by starting with the local papers, while setting our sites on having articles published in various business journals and magazines. To review our current media coverage, visit the "In The News" section of our web-site.

Unlocking the value of your customer satisfaction surveys - Part 2:

In our second article in the series “Unlocking the value of your customer satisfaction surveys” we will discuss a critical element in an effective customer survey program: responding to immediate customer needs identified during the survey process.

Part 1 of the series explored the topic of Measurement Principles. You can access this article at the link provided below.

Responding to immediate customer needs identified during the survey process:

Too often companies only use customer satisfaction survey results as a report of “how we did last month”. Truly proactive, customer-focused organizations respond to customer survey information to increase revenue and improve customer and employee satisfaction and loyalty.

During the process of administering a customer satisfaction survey program your customer will often express items requiring immediate attention. We will refer to these occurrences as a “HOTLINE”. A HOTLINE could include leads for new business, up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, or areas of significant dissatisfaction from an irate customer. This is the moment of truth in the eyes of your customer.

If you respond to these items promptly, you demonstrate to the customer how much you care about their business. If you don't, the customer will perceive that your firm is wasting their time in asking them to participate in the survey. That is, you aren't taking the time to respond to their feedback. A customer that has a need for additional services will now have time to shop your competitor. And, a customer that is dissatisfied with the product or service will only be further convinced of the lack of performance of your organization. The goal is to take this opportunity to show the customer how much you truly care about their needs.

There are 4 steps we will discuss in setting up a process to effectively respond to your customer's needs:

  1. Becoming “connected at the hip” with your survey partner

  2. Establishing your HOTLINE criteria

  3. Implementing a HOTLINE team

  4. Management Reporting

Becoming "connected at the hip" with your survey partner:

To ensure objectivity in their customer satisfaction survey process many companies engage a third party survey firm. If this is your approach to performing surveys, then the first step to setting up a HOTLINE process is ensuring you are “connected at the hip” with your survey partner. The customer satisfaction survey firm Development II has been particularly supportive in this process, in my experience of leveraging customer survey results as a catalyst to improve customer satisfaction and increase revenue.

Establishing your HOTLINE criteria:

The next step to setting up a HOTLINE process is establishing specific criteria for which a real-time response is warranted. This could include: identifying keywords that a customer may use when responding to the survey, or indicating that a customer providing at least one response of “totally dissatisfied” to any survey question is a qualified HOTLINE.

Additionally, the survey partner must be prepared to capture the complete context of the customer's comment. There is nothing worse for a dissatisfied customer than to go through a dissertation during the survey, on their areas of concern, only to have you call them and ask "so, why are you dissatisfied with our service?".

Implementing a HOTLINE team:

You now need to define, within your organization, a team of people empowered to effectively respond to your customer HOTLINES. This includes ensuring the team has the ability to immediately [if necessary] engage support personnel to resolve the customer’s service issues. The HOTLINE team must also be prepared to initiate the process to fulfill a customer’s requirement for new/additional services.

A customer’s dissatisfaction is in direct proportion to the gap between what they “believe” they were to receive and what they “perceive” they are receiving. This can be a contractual gap or it could be based on a misunderstanding of what they acquired. The HOTLINE team may need to explain that a particular item or service was not included in their purchase or lease. They should also be prepared to discuss how they may be able to obtain this added level of service, if it is an available option and they so desire it. This team, therefore, must be very knowledgeable about your products and services as the appropriate response may simply be to reset the customer’s expectations.

For many companies it makes sense to establish the HOTLINE process such that service issues go to the Customer Care department, and up-sell and cross-sell opportunities go to Sales.

Management Reporting:

The final step of the HOTLINE process is to produce management reporting on a frequent basis; this insures that appropriate attention is paid to your HOTLINES. Reporting should occur on at least a monthly basis. Information on the HOTLINE report should include the customer's company name, contact name, brief description of the HOTLINE, when it was detected, when it was initially acted upon by your HOTLINE team, when it was closed-out and what the final resolution was.

Now you are ready to administer the customer satisfaction survey. And, upon your survey partner sensing that a customer’s situation warrants immediate response they can initiate the HOTLINE process. They will know what criteria initiates this process, what information they should capture and how to engage the appropriate personnel in your organization to follow-up with the customer.

Effectively responding to HOTLINES uncovered in the survey process simply requires a closed-loop process between your survey partner and your firm. By so doing you have taken the necessary steps to fulfill a customer’s unmet needs and respond to their concerns that may have been previously unknown to your firm. In all cases this is a win-win situation. Your customer’s level of satisfaction will increase and you will have increased the measure of loyalty they have with your firm.

The benefits of implementing and following a process such as this include:

  • Turning customer problems into new business opportunities
  • Demonstrating to the customer that you truly care about their experience and are committed to taking immediate action to respond
  • Increasing customer satisfaction
  • Increasing revenue

Our next article, in the series on “Unlocking the value of your customer satisfaction surveys”, will cover the topic of implementing customer-focused changes.

Part 1 of this series can be viewed online at the following link:

Part 1: Measurement Principles

More About Stu Taylor

Stu Taylor, who for more than two decades as the founder and president of Taylor Associates, Inc., was the leading national distributor of commercial spin-off and movie related merchandise. He has been the host of many local and syndicated radio shows for the past decade, currently hosting two nationally syndicated business shows, "Equity Strategies", on Business Talk Radio Network and Radio America Network, as well as "Stu Taylor on Business" on Business 1060, WBIX, Boston. He is the author of "How To Turn Trends Into Fortunes (Without Getting Left In the Dust") and is a professional speaker for businesses and organizations. To learn more about Stu Taylor call 781.860.9548 or visit his web-site:

More About Development II, Inc.

Development II, Inc., is a Business Consulting and Market Research firm that designs, implements, and maintains specialized customer satisfaction programs for improving business effectiveness. To learn more about Development II, visit their web-site, or call 888-227-3244.


More About Customer Centricity, Inc.

Customer Centricity, Inc., is a business consulting firm that works with companies to unlock the value of their customer relationships. We leverage our real-world experience to help our clients deal with their customers in more skillful and satisfying ways.

Customer Centricity delivers on this promise by optimizing the interaction between people, process and systems within the organization to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction and greater return on investment (ROI). We do this in 3 ways:

  1. Skills Training to enable customer-facing personnel to deliver exceptional levels of customer service;
  2. Design and Implementation of business process techniques to serve the customer in efficient, effective and consistent manners; and
  3. Identification of the appropriate business processes to automate, enabling companies to get the most from their investments in technology.

Our approach is to work closely with our clients to help them capture the knowledge of their team so that they can leverage it to build more valuable, long-term relationships with their customers.

To learn more about Customer Centricity:

call: 603.491.7948

send e-mail to: 

or visit our web-site:

In Closing

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Thanks, and have a great day!


Copyright (c) 2002 by Customer Centricity, Inc. All rights reserved.