Many of our subscribers did not receive the last newsletter, and those
that did may have experienced problems with the links provided within. The
title of the last newsletter, "Preserving a Healthy Customer Base,"
apparently triggered anti-spam filters. Going forward, our newsletters
will be titled "Customer Centricity Newsletter."
In addition, at the time of the initial sending, our Newsletter Management
service was experiencing a problem which caused most of the links on the
newsletter to fail for the first 24 hours.
We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused. Anyone who
did not receive the last edition of our newsletter can view it on the
newsletter page of our website.
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Preserving a Healthy
Customer Base (Part 2)
This is a multi-part series presenting eight simple rules for preserving a
healthy customer base. The last issue discussed: Forecasting the Customer
Base and Avoiding the Free Agent Dilemma. Two more rules are presented in
Organize for Retention
All too often the responsibility of renewing and retaining customers falls
squarely and solely on the shoulders of the field sales representative.
Executive focus comes only after the situation has hit critical. The
problem here is that the sales rep is being pushed and pulled between new
deals and existing customers, and the executive, who has the power to
bring key resources into the loop, isn't positioned to act. Ideally, there
will be account managers, whose primary job is managing the installed
base, teamed with customer care professionals who are likewise incented to
keep a healthy base. An executive who owns the customer base (and leads
the forecast reviews) and can provide reinforcements, muster his peers,
and offer proactive support completes the teaming.
Prioritize the Customer Base
We want to keep all our customers, but the simple fact is that we can't
treat all of them equally. Resources needed to retain a customer are busy
retaining multiple customers as well as simply keeping the business going
day-to-day. Clearly prioritize the customers by revenue and profitability
(Note: Don't get hung up on the intangibles, they usually don't enhance
decision making). Use this to deploy your retention resources properly.
For true strategic accounts, you should be more willing to invest the top
of the line resources, but for smaller accounts you may adopt a simplified
approach. Furthermore, you should be actively looking to weed out
unprofitable customers as part of the prioritization. In the end, this is
addition via subtraction and will help the company. Nevertheless, most
companies are afraid to break off certain customer relationships even if
the relationship is a money loser.
The next two articles will present the final four rules for preserving a
healthy customer base. If you want help preserving your customer base,
feel free to contact us.
Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives
We are pleased to provide this series on "Rewarding and Incenting Customer
Service Representatives" to respond to one of our subscribers, who asked
us to cover this topic.
Effectively rewarding and incenting customer service representatives can
be complex. The types of incentives and rewards are important to consider,
but certain prerequisites must be in place to ensure that your rewards and
incentive program is truly effective. To be comprehensive, this series
will cover the following topics:
- Be careful what you ask for
- Empower the front-line personnel
- Align the rest of the organization
- Provide immediate recognition
- Financial incentives
Be careful what you ask for
Said differently - you get the behavior that you measure and reinforce.
This became glaringly clear to me during an experience I had upon
inheriting a customer service organization. As I began the process of
coming up-to-speed on the inner-workings of the organization, its
personnel, processes, levels of performance and customers, I discovered
that we were primarily focused on production metrics, such as: Average
speed to answer, call wait time, abandonment rate, etc. To reinforce this
set of performance metrics, our employees' quarterly bonuses were tied to
the achievement of goals in this area. We were performing fairly well
against the goals that had been established. However, when I spoke with
customers I realized the effect that this "production focus" was having on
customer satisfaction. That is, the customers could tell that our customer
service organization was focused on processing calls as quickly as
possible, and that "resolving my service issue or question is secondary to
efficient call processing." We were getting precisely the behavior we were
rewarding, just not the behavior we wanted.
To be clear, production metrics are important barometers to monitor
in managing a customer service organization. If your organization focuses
on production metrics as the "primary" performance indicator, you will get
what you asked for. That is, you will perform highly "efficient"
transactions with customers. However, you will NOT generate "effective"
relationships with your customers. In fact, the customer will KNOW that
you are trying to get them off the phone as quickly as possible, to take
that "next call." The reality is that you want to ensure that each
customer feels that they are the most important call that your
company is taking (at that time).
Metrics to consider for ensuring that focus isn't merely on production
include: number of repeat calls (for the same issue, by the same
customer); first-touch resolution; and, most importantly, customer
At my company, after we realized that we were focused on production
metrics rather than the customer relationship or satisfaction levels of
our customer-base, we decided that it was time for a change. While we
continued to watch the traditional call center metrics, we changed our
bonus program to be focused on customer satisfaction. And, guess what –
quarter-over-quarter customer satisfaction continued to climb! And, the
company was subsequently rewarded for this by being acknowledged as #1 in
customer service, for their industry.
Subsequent newsletter editions will share other elements for effectively
rewarding and incenting customer service personnel that augment the item
covered above. If you have interesting ways to reward or incent your
customer service personnel, enter our contest (see information in right
Newsletter Distribution Challenges
Healthy Customer Base
Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives
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In his ComputerWeekly.com article No More "Jam Tomorrow", Nick Langley
discusses a problem many companies are facing: how to get quick ROI with
minimal IT investment.
View full article
Customer Centricity's goal is to promote
availability of information that Customer Service management will find
effective in addressing their most pressing business goals and objectives.
To this end, we are running a contest through the remainder of 2003 to
generate a list of as many unique ideas as possible on how people reward
and incent their customer service personnel.
Contest details: submit your unique approach to incenting /
rewarding your customer service personnel to
firstname.lastname@example.org. A panel of 3
Customer Centricity consultants will review the submissions, identify the
3 best ideas and announce the winners in our first newsletter of 2004.
Winners will see their name in electronic print (within our newsletter)
amongst their peers in industry (other subscribers just like you) and can
also choose an item of their choice from the
Customer Centricity logo shop.
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
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