Preserving a Healthy
Customer Base (Part 4)
the final article in a multi-part series presenting eight simple rules for
preserving a healthy customer base. Previous newsletter issues discussed
the first 6 rules:
Avoiding the Free
Don't be a Stranger
Have a Customer
final two rules are presented in this issue.
Develop Renewal Offerings and Programs
Give customers an incentive to stay with you or a reward for being in a
longer-term relationship. This can take the form of incentives for early
renewal or clear benefits (e.g., higher level of customer support) for
committing to a multi-year deal. These rewards don't have to be financial,
but they do need to be tangible. In addition, use contracts positively—not
as a bludgeon. Build in price review mechanisms that extend the
relationship if you need to lower costs and look to make your relationship
evergreen—with a remedy period and tail that precedes any cancellation.
Build the Retention Mindset
Retaining customers means looking to deepen the existing relationship so
that switching is more difficult. For Operations, this means continuing to
deliver and where it is cost effective, over-deliver. For Sales, this
means looking to develop
the account, which may imply forsaking short term gains for a longer term
pay-off. For Customer Service, this means being proactive. Be up front in
demonstrating the value that is being provided to your customers and
actively seek the opportunities to solve problems for your customers—even
if they are not asking for it. For Senior Management, understand your
customer base. Know the relevant details of the customer forecast, and
make yourself available for specific actions to retain customers.
If you would like more information about how best to preserve your
customer base, feel free to
View Previous Articles In
Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives (Part 3)
In response to a request by one of our subscribers, we are pleased to
provide the third article in the series on "Rewarding and Incenting
Customer Service Representatives." In previous editions we reviewed two
key prerequisites for rewarding and incenting your Customer Service
Representatives, that are in the direct control of Customer Service
Management. In this issue, we review an important item that will require
Align the rest of the organization
A common goal of many customer service organizations is to resolve each
customer's inquiry on the "first touch," without the front-line having to
hand the customer off to other parts of the organization. However,
customer satisfaction and retention do not rest solely on customer
service. The front-line maintains a critical dependency on the "rest of
the organization" to effectively service and support the customer base.
Organizational dependencies key to achieving high levels of customer
satisfaction and retention include:
– Ensuring that products and services are released only when they are
ready, and customer service personnel provide input and receive training
on new products and services – in advance of market availability.
Sales and Marketing
– Ensuring that expectations are properly set regarding the
capabilities, delivery, implementation timeframe and/or performance of
the products and services. By doing this, the service organization can
effectively meet or exceed these expectations. Have you heard the phrase
"under promise and over perform?" Too often, the service organization is
placed in the opposite position. That is, something was "over promised"
which results in the customer service organization attempting to recover
from the situation where the firm is "under performing" to the
– Ensuring a timely response to, and resolution of, customer issues that
require a higher level skill set, based on predefined guidelines and
priorities. Additionally, ensuring that there is an effective process in
place to perform scheduling, planning and notification of upgrades /
maintenance activities to minimize / eliminate unanticipated impact to
the customer-base. Finally, to continuously push capabilities to the
front-line to increase "first-touch resolution."
– Ensuring a timely response to bugs and enhancement requests. This
includes providing customer service with a specific timeframe for
response, based on predefined guidelines and priorities. The response
could include a "commit date" for resolution or an indication that the
item will not be addressed at all, and why. This ensures that customer
service is not "stuck in the middle" without the ability to set customer
expectations. (See the article
"Bug Fix Promises?" in issue #32 of our newsletter for more
information related to the topic of managing bug reports.)
– Ensuring their awareness of, and engagement in, responding to trends
that are impacting customer service, satisfaction and retention, by
allocating resources to invest in their prevention and/or resolution. To
capture the attention of senior management and obtain such a response,
you will want to appeal to their concern for customer retention,
profitability and operational efficiencies. These are items that are the
easiest to put a number (dollars) against. Typically, customer service
organizations focus on customer satisfaction, which is important, but
can be more difficult to quantify in dollars.
Once your Customer Service team knows that the entire organization is
aligned to ensure high levels of customer service, satisfaction and
retention, they will be much more motivated to effectively serve your
customer. Additionally, you will achieve significant improvements in
operational efficiencies (cost savings).
In closing, we have now provided 3 prerequisites for ensuring that your
Customer Service reward and incentive program is truly effective. Not
having these prerequisites in place can make your rewards and incentive
programs an effort in futility. Subsequent newsletter editions will share
the "how to" portion of effectively rewarding and incenting customer
View Previous Articles In
Healthy Customer Base
Rewarding and Incenting Customer Service Representatives
And the Winners Are...
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View previous newsletters
To complement our
current series on incenting and rewarding customer service personnel, we
recommend an article by Mary Sandro, founder of
ProEdge Skills, Inc.
In her article
"Four Ways to Motivate Service Professionals- A Guide to Getting Wow
Ms. Sandro discusses four strategies for motivating service professionals.
View full article
And the Winners Are...
announced in previous newsletter editions, we are holding a contest to
acknowledge our readers that submit the most unique approaches to
incenting / rewarding their customer service personnel. We are now
wrapping up this contest and pleased to announce the winners. The top 2
submissions were selected for the breadth and uniqueness of their
And, the winners are, in alphabetical order:
- Robyn Grable – Director, Solution Center, ADP National Account
Pat Killebrew – Sr. Director Enterprise IT, Digex
We will feature their approaches to rewarding and incenting customer
service personnel in subsequent newsletter editions and on the Customer
Centricity web-site. We know that you will enjoy reading their approaches
and benefit from giving them a try.
Congratulations, Robyn and Pat!
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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