Perfecting Service Management

Issue #78

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Join Craig Bailey for Conference in Malaysia

If you are considering embarking on the journey to becoming customer centric, join Customer Centricity president Craig Bailey as he delivers a 2-day seminar entitled Customer Centricity - Leveraging the Voice of the Customer to Maximize Business Results on 17-18 October, 2005, in
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The seminar, organized in conjunction with Global Intelligence Networks, will cover strategic and tactical approaches to becoming customer centric.

Get 30% off the seminar fee when you mention that you heard about this via the Customer Centricity newsletter!

Customer Advocacy - Getting Into the Heart and Mind of Your Customer
by Craig Bailey

We began this series on Customer Advocacy earlier this year, after receiving a number of inquiries from clients and newsletter subscribers, many of whom are Managed Service Providers (MSPs). The first stage of the topic is now complete and is available online (see editions 70 to 77). We now begin Stage 2 on the proactive Customer Advocate - Getting Into the Heart and Mind of Your Customer.

I recently attended a seminar in which the name of one of my clients (an MSP) came up. The speaker posed a question, something to the effect of "why do people buy from [MSP]?" The response to the question included NOTHING about the firm's products, services, features, functions, pricing, people, leading edge technology, massive data centers, global presence, or multi-decade experience in the industry. NOTHING. The overwhelming response from the attendees (customers of this MSP) was "TRUST." Pure and simple trust. "I trust that [MSP] will take care of my business." Powerful!

To be clear, your products, services, people, technology, etc. are table stakes to be in the business you are in. But, if that's all you've got, you have been, or soon will become, commoditized, competing solely on price. Not a place you want to be.

The question then becomes: "How do I earn trust (to be able to get into the heart and mind of my customer)?" Do you earn trust by making promises? No. You earn trust by thinking and acting in the best interests of your customer. And, you do what you said you would do.

As we embark on stage 2 of the Customer Advocacy topic, we won't reiterate the reasons this is important. That would be "preaching to the converted." Instead, in keeping with our style, we will simply share how to create a proactive Customer Advocacy mind-set that should be instilled in every customer-facing employee in your firm.

Customer Advocacy Model

What is a proactive Customer Advocate? Someone who:

  • Is an internal champion for the client
  • Knows the clients' businesses well enough to represent their needs to the many departments and personnel within the firm
  • Ensures a mutually profitable relationship

Anyone in a firm who "touches" the customer can and should be a Customer Advocate. To do this effectively requires a set of tools and skills associated with each level of engagement with the client:

- Individual interactions (One and done) - How to achieve mutual understanding within simple customer interactions to ensure needs and expectations are met or exceeded, and how to treat every customer interaction as part of a bigger (relationship) picture.

- Transactional interactions - How to be the "good shepherd," ensuring that you (or your firm) follows through on what was promised to the customer (issue resolution, answer to a question, processing of an order, etc.).

- Projects - How to orchestrate holistic delivery of a multi-faceted solution involving multiple interrelated tasks and activities of resources from multiple firms (yours, the customer and potentially 3rd party vendors) while buffering the client from the inherent complexities.

- Relationship - How to foster a relationship of a "mutual exchange of value," both by reflecting on "where we have been?" in the relationship, to build upon what has worked and improve on areas needing attention, and by projecting into the future "where will this relationship be in 2-4 years?"

- Evolution - How to take the firm to the next level by internalizing the customer's feedback on the firm's performance and understanding their current and future business needs, and responding to position yourself as a long-term strategic partner for your customer.

In the next edition, we will start discussing the tools and skills necessary to BEGIN building trust with your client.

If your organization would benefit from receiving a comprehensive seminar on the practical approaches for instituting the Customer Advocacy model, give us a call. The tools and techniques shared can be implemented immediately and create long-lasting positive results.

View previous articles in this series.

Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down

You asked, we listened! In response to a reader request for more stories of "good" and "bad" customer service (similar to the Southwest Airlines series depicting excellent customer service), we are creating this Thumbs Up / Thumbs Down column. What memorable customer experiences have you had? Which experiences delighted you, causing you to remain loyal? Which ones made you decide to "never go back?"

The focus should be on the customer service behavior, not necessarily the company. Our requestor offered the following experience, which we present as the first installment of this column:

I took my credit card and daughter to [an electronics superstore] today to buy her a new computer. Couldn't even get waited on. Then went to [another electronics superstore]. Same thing. Couldn't get waited on. Store wasn't busy. Left with no computer. Even if employees are busy, we understand that, but they could at least say "I'll be with you in a minute." They acted as if we weren't even there. I won't be back to either store. Nor will anyone in my family.

Editor's note: In our experience, this is an example, pure and simple, of corporate and/or store management not recognizing the importance of properly rewarding, incenting and empowering customer-facing staff to meet or exceed customer expectations. If you'd like insight on how to reward and incent customer service representatives, download our free whitepaper on the subject. Or to learn first hand, join us for a seminar in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (17-18 October). If you are not available to join us in Malaysia, give us a call to discuss ways we can make these insights and tried and true approaches available to you.

Submit Customer Experience

Contents

+ Customer Advocacy - Getting Into the Heart and Mind of Your Customer
+ Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down
+ Recommended Reading


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Recommended Reading
The Performance Paradox, by Jena McGregor, appears in the April 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine. It presents the paradox: Once you prove what you can do, you're expected to do it even better. As Ms. McGregor writes, "Great companies and their employees have always endured this treadmill of expectations. But these days, the brewing forces of technology, productivity, and transparency have accelerated the cycle to breakneck speed."

So, how do you beat the expectations game? It's not easy, but as Ms. McGregor alludes to, getting into the heart and mind of your customer is an important start.

Topics, Topics, Topics
Do you have a topic you would like to see covered in our newsletter? Contact us with your suggestions.


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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