By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President of The Discovery Group
Senior management in most organizations have no idea what their clients are really thinking. They are insulated from the problems clients experience at the front lines of their company. Making matters worse is that in the interest of cost efficiency, organizations are establishing systems which mechanize rather humanize the customer/client experience.
Management consistently assumes a level of satisfaction that does not exist. Most would be surprised to learn that more than 40 percent of employees believe it is difficult to do business with their organization. Understanding how clients really feel plays a critical role in retaining an organization's most important asset, its customers/clients.
WHAT CAN BE DONE
Provide Opportunities for More Employee-Client "Face Time"
In many organizations, front line client/customer service employees never actually meet their clients. All their contacts are by e-mail and telephone. These have their place, of course, but they are imperfect methods of communication. Face-to-face meetings can greatly improve relationships, rapport and understanding.
Get Senior Management More Involved With Clients
Successful senior managers recognize that their customers are their most valuable asset. They go out of their way to spend time with customers to build long-term relationships.
Survey Customers Regularly
Conducting periodic surveys of customers is an excellent way to gain a better understanding of how they really feel about your products, services, procedures and employees.
Implement a "Keep in Touch" Program
When is the last time you spoke with each of your top 10 customers? Savvy senior managers develop contact systems for making certain that these customers are not forgotten. "Keep in touch" calls to "just see how things are going" are greatly appreciated by customers. The key is to make these "keep in touch" contacts a regular part of how you conduct your business.
Speak With Customers Who Leave
Once clients take their business to your competitors, it is usually too late to win their business back. However, learning why they left can help ensure that other customers don't jump ship as well. Telephone calls, personal visits and surveys can all help surface this valuable information.
Survey New Customers
When new clients come on board, ask them why they chose to do business with your firm. This knowledge can help you land future clients.
Conduct a "Shopping Study"
Have you ever called the customer service line of your own organization? Were you treated with respect? Conduct your own shopping study by doing business with your firm or hiring someone else to do it. This is a very powerful way to learn about the experience of your customers.
Conduct an Internal Client Satisfaction Study
If departments within your organization are not providing professional, timely and courteous service to each other, how can you expect that they are providing quality service to your customers/clients? Conduct a survey of employees in your organization to learn how they feel about the service they are receiving from other departments in the organization. Also, ask them to self assess how well they are servicing other departments in the organization. Don't be surprised if employees throughout the organization feel that they are providing better service than they are receiving.
Contact Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D.",The Survey Doctor"
President THE DISCOVERY GROUP
9 Blair Circle Sharon, MA 02067
Voice - 781-784-4367 Fax - 781-784-6450