Perfecting Service Management

Issue #4 Friday, October 18, 2003

Welcome!

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 to provide updates from Customer Centricity.

In this issue you will learn the time proven approach for implementing account strategies based on the results of your customer satisfaction surveys.

 

In this issue:

Spotlight: Customer Centricity Offering

Customer Centricity is pleased to announce an exciting offer: the Customer Service Assessment. As part of its introduction we are providing the Customer Service Assessment to qualified companies at no charge. The assessment includes Customer Centricity performing an on-site exercise resulting in a report of findings and recommendations that can be used to form an action plan to close the gap between where a company is today and their customer relationship goals.

This is a risk-free, no-obligation way for you to try us out AND receive value in the form of objective/expert insight and advice on how you can meet the following business challenges, prevalent in today's business environment:

  • Increasing revenue when new customers are difficult to acquire

  • Increasing customer satisfaction while reducing the cost of operating the business

  • Distinguishing your business in the market-place, by delivering excellent customer service.

If you would like to learn more about this exciting opportunity please contact Customer Centricity

top


Distinguishing Your Business With Excellent Customer Service

If you missed our talk, "Distinguishing Your Business With Excellent Customer Service", on the "Stu Taylor on Business" radio talk show, feel free free to download the White Paper (PDF format: click icon for free Acrobat Reader)

top

 
 

Unlocking The Value Of Your Customer Satisfaction Surveys

Part 4: Implementing Account Strategies

In our previous article in the series ďUnlocking the Value of Your Customer Satisfaction SurveysĒ we discussed how to implement customer-focused change programs designed to increase your customersí level of satisfaction. These change programs result from the broad understanding of satisfaction trends across your customer-base. This article in the series will explore how you can use satisfaction survey results to identify new opportunities, increase loyalty and grow the revenue of your installed customer-base.

A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with a very skilled Account Management team, based in New York City. We visited a particular customer to respond to a source of their dissatisfaction with our firm. I will never forget the comment made by the Sales Engineer as we left the customerís facility, at the end of the meeting. He said: ďI love it when my customers complain, because I always end-up selling them more stuffĒ. Make no mistake, this gentleman was not happy that the customer was dissatisfied with our firm. However, he saw the silver lining. There was a gap between the customerís expectations regarding what they thought they would be receiving for service and their perception of what was being delivered. By identifying the cause of dissatisfaction and resetting the customerís expectations this Sales Engineer was able to close the gap by recommending that the customer purchase additional services. We walked away with a new sales order from what ďwasĒ a highly dissatisfied customer! The result was that the customerís satisfaction increased, and so did the revenue that our firm received from this customer.

This article will explore the 6 steps you can take to Implement Account Strategies, driven by customer satisfaction survey results. Implementing account strategies is something that can be done, to a greater or lesser degree, for all of your customers. However, what will be reviewed here is a program that is most appropriate for your highest-profile accounts.

  1. Compile account-specific survey results
  2. Engage senior management in the customerís experience
  3. Prepare for the customer review meeting
  4. Meet with the customer
  5. Educate your organization and engage resources to respond
  6. Continue the process

1.  Compile account-specific survey results. Once your firm has implemented the prerequisite steps, previously covered in the series ďUnlocking the Value of Your Customer Satisfaction SurveysĒ, you are now ready to compile an account-specific report. This entails creating a report of the specific customerís feedback resulting from your surveying their firm. The report will outline: who was surveyed (names and titles), the levels of satisfaction and dissatisfaction by person, and any comments they shared during the survey. What you may find is that the individual users are totally-satisfied with your service, while management within the customerís organization is not. This may result from the fact that the manager, responsible for financing the purchase of your services, doesnít see the return-on-investment, while the end-users within the customerís organization find the service mission-critical in the performance of their job. You need to take this opportunity to proactively manage the customerís perception of your firm. The remaining steps outline how you can do this, by leveraging your customerís survey results.

2. Engage senior management in your customer's experience. While it is not expected that each of your customers have a relationship with an executive from your company, it is highly beneficial to have your senior executives (VP and above) develop relationships with 2-3 of your firmís highest priority accounts. Highest priority accounts can be defined as those that generate the most revenue, have strategic name recognition or are an important partner in the industry within which you operate. Having your executives develop relationships with your highest priority accounts forms the basis for a very effective and long-term partnership between your firms. A specific step that your executives can perform is that of an interactive review of survey results, with the customerís Account Manager and the customer. This provides opportunities for your executives to hear "unfiltered" feedback from your customer-base. Additionally, it is an excellent opportunity to turn problem situations into new business opportunities. Executives typically donít get bogged down in the details. Instead, they generally strive to form strategic relationships built upon mutual respect. Finally, with your executives this close to the customer you demonstrate to all your constituencies the commitment your organization has to the customer.

3. Prepare for the customer review meeting. The major activity in this step is holding a rehearsal, or dry-run, of the customer meeting between the Account Manager and the senior manager assigned to the account. The goal is to determine the appropriate strategy for the meeting and what messages need to be delivered to the customer. You may want to assign the discussion points so that the senior executive covers an overview of the corporation, future plans and reasons for conducting the survey. The Account Manager then discusses the customerís survey results and asks three key questions: 1) What can I, the Account Manager, do to improve Customer Satisfaction? 2) What can the Company do to improve? 3) What is everything necessary for you to become Totally Satisfied?

Performing a dry-run is crucial, as you will typically identify a number of issues that require several hours, or days, to address to ensure a positive outcome with the customer.

The final step is scheduling appointments to meet with key contacts at the account. The Account Manager will want to schedule a meeting, or meetings, to ensure that you have an opportunity to provide a review of survey results and future plans with: end-users, decision-makers and key influencers. When scheduling face-time with the customer, use this opportunity to indicate that you will be bringing a senior manager from your firm, and would like to have senior managers present from the customerís firm as well. By your taking the posture of presenting analysis material, that will benefit the account, instead of selling, the Account Manager can enter offices that may have previously been closed. The Account Manager now has an excuse to move horizontally and vertically within the accountís organization in order to present the results and extend their sphere of influence.

4. Meet with the customer. You are now ready to meet with your account to review the report specifically designed for them. You will share what your company has observed as broad trends across your customer-base and what is being done to respond globally. Then you will discuss the customerís specific concerns and finally your response, which may not have been covered in the broad programs previously reviewed.

The main goals of this meeting include:

  • Clarify account issues
  • Identify additional business opportunities
  • Understand how the account evaluates your products or services
  • Demonstrate to the customer that you are taking their input seriously and are responding to meet their needs

5. Educate your organization and engage resources to respond. You will now want to educate others in your firm and engage the appropriate resources to respond to your accountís feedback. You will have information that needs to be shared with other organizations such as Marketing and Product Management that may lead to future enhancements to your products or services. And, you will likely need to pull together your extended account team to respond to the customerís specific feedback. Too often customer satisfaction is left on the shoulders of account management and/or the customer contact center. While these are key functions impacting the customerís overall satisfaction with your firm, many other personnel touch the customer (technical support, billing, credit, collections, etc.). As such, you will need to bring together members of the extended account-team to ensure that each organization understands the areas of satisfaction and dissatisfaction of the particular account and knows what they can do to positively influence this customerís perception of your firm.

6. Continue the process. By now you will have realized many benefits of implementing account strategies and want to continuously loop through the process on a monthly or quarterly basis with each account that you include in the program. During each subsequent meeting youíll want to start off by providing an update on what youíve done, the programs youíve put in place, or steps youíve taken to respond to previously identified areas of dissatisfaction. You will find that each pass at this process builds upon an increasing relationship of trust, respect and mutual profitability.

Remember, implementing account strategies is not something that you will necessarily do for all of your customers. This is a program that you would perform, in its entirety, for only your highest-profile accounts. With that said, however, it is highly recommended that your Account Managers leverage survey results to hold similar discussions with their lower-profile accounts. While senior management from your firm may not be engaged the Account Managers and the customer will realize positive results here as well.

In summary, implementing account strategies based on customer satisfaction survey results will benefit your firm by:

  • Identifying additional revenue opportunities in existing accounts
  • Expanding the level and breadth of contacts that account managers have in their accounts
  • Clearly identifying account issues (gaps that can be closed)
  • Aligning the corporationís resources to resolve account issues
  • Enhancing the relationship between account managers and their customers
  • Bottom-line: Increases account revenue

Previous Articles In This Series:

Part 1: Measurement Principles
Part 2: Responding to the Immediate Needs of Your Customer
Part 3: Implementing Customer-Focused Change

top

 
 
 

More About Customer Centricity, Inc.

Customer Centricity is a business consulting firm that partners with companies to improve the performance of their service organizations. We leverage our real-world experience to help our clients manage their customer relationships in more effective and satisfying ways.

Customer Centricity delivers on this promise by optimizing the interaction between people, process and technology to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction and increased operational efficiencies. We provide:

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

In addition to our core practices, we also maintain a network of strategic partnerships to provide end-to-end consulting across your organization with a commitment to seamless execution.

Click on the following link to see what our customers have to say.

To learn more about Customer Centricity:

call: 603.491.7948

send e-mail to: info@customercentricity.biz 

or visit our web-site: www.customercentricity.biz

In Closing

If you enjoyed this newsletter and feel that others would benefit from it, feel free to pass it on. If you have received this newsletter from a colleague and would like future editions sent to you directly, please send a message to info@customercentricity.biz indicating your desire to "subscribe".

Thanks, and have a great day!

Unsubscribing - To unsubscribe simply click here and hit send in your email client. Alternatively you can reply to this email with the word "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the body of your message.

 

Copyright (c) 2003 by Customer Centricity, Inc. All rights reserved.