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Customer Satisfaction A Metric for Success ? Part 1
He was looking for help in turning the employees at his organization toward the same award-winning customer service-oriented approach that set us apart in an industry both intensely competitive and less than forgiving. He asked for more specifics on how we did this.
"It's pretty simple," I responded. "Our commitment to our customers actually begins even before a purchase is made. We make sure that the products we sell work with the computers we say it will. Then, we take care of every customer, one customer at a time."
The ah-ha moment was when I asked, "And how many firms have the CEO reporting to the customer on an organization chart?"
Customers don't expect to get bottom-of-the-barrel prices everywhere they go, but they do expect value for every dollar spent and they expect to be treated with respect.
I find the majority of what we do to be common sense.
It's not about market studies or the latest fad - it's about being innovative with quality products at a competitive price - and being there for our customer before, during and well after the sale.
Proactive - It may sound overly simple; but the best customer service begins with the design, development and supportive materials you produce. We constantly remind ourselves why we're in business - satisfied customers. Image - Newton's Law of Influence
For some reason, most companies don't seem to understand that it's the being there for the customer that's the most important.
Before a sale (and during a sale), it's important to provide the customer with information and advice that results in the best product selection, not just the biggest sales ticket. And following the sale, you need to make sure the customer's goals have been successfully achieved.
Customer for Life - The goal isn't to just sell a customer a product but satisfy that customer's wants/needs to make him or her a customer for life. Image - Parker Wright Group
We seek to have customers for life, and focus on earning their support and trust through while other companies are off busy chasing the next prospect.
When I asked our director of customer support which firms in the industry he wanted to have his team compared to, he didn't even blink an eye. "I want people to say Southwest Airlines, Zappos and OWC are examples of companies that get customer service right... that would be awesome!!!"
We've looked at outsourcing; but neither of us sees how it even comes close to having a very motivated team providing customer support at our headquarters. Ask any CEO his most challenging task and he/she will say its hiring great talent.
For us, that means finding people who are interested in providing the best guidance, assistance, support they possibly can, especially when something isn't going exactly right. We have a team that cares and engages. The OWC Difference isn't a scripted interaction.
Our team tends to "hire their own," understanding that their team members have to treat customers who call, email, text, tweet or post to one of our social media pages in a respectful, caring manner.
That's not always easy.
Support Diversity - We've found there is no one right person for the OWC service team. There is a great deal of diversity in our organization, but there are common traits that seem to work best.
Our director of customer service has found that great talent comes from a variety of areas such as:
- Teachers making a career change
- Recent graduates who were active in a sport. These individuals tend to be self-disciplined, motivated, great at multitasking, able to overcome adversity, appreciate the value of teamwork
- Ex-military who have learned the value of teamwork, leadership, thinking thoroughly before acting (or saying)
- Young people who have energy, ideas, enthusiasm and want the chance to grow, make a difference
Of course, it takes time and training to make the transition from their former occupation to providing a high rate of First Call Resolutions (FCRs) where the customer's need is properly addressed the first time they call. But with the correct training and environment, individuals with the aforementioned characteristics will excel and provide the top-level of customer service.
The challenge is every customer is different:
- Some really are technical experts and know how to open their computers and make the necessary repairs/upgrades.
- Some are comfortable with their systems/mobile devices, but like in-depth information before they tackle an upgrade.
- Some want to do the work themselves but are hesitant and need user-friendly assistance.
- Some don't know what they don't know, but are positive they know.
That's why it's important to add value to the sales proposition that will appeal to the majority of your customers?real value that sets you apart from the competition. For example, the free, US-based 24/7 lifetime support we provide tells customers we want to ensure that they're completely satisfied with our products for the life of the products.
When it comes to adding value, I'd have to say one of the most popular aspects of our overall customer support program is our growing library of now over 200 step-by-step "how-to" videos. The installation guides, which are available free of charge to anyone who visits our site, not just customers, have generated more than 2.2 million views - and that's only recently since we began counting.
Customers Are People
There's been a lot of noise about moving contact and support centers to the cloud to take maximum advantage of cutting-edge technologies without a huge investment.
It's been tempting at times; but in going over the customer service reports every week, I come back to the same realization ... customers are people!
They're young, old; male, female; white collar, blue collar; people who have a computer or mobile device and want to do more with it for as little added expense as possible.
To advise and guide each of these individuals through the selling process means literally everyone in the organization has a primary job - engineering, test, marketing, sales, shipping or accounting - and a secondary job ... customer service.
To help our customers make the right decision, install/update their system and get back to their lives, we've found most people like the feeling of doing the work themselves. That's why the support team helps in continually evaluating, updating and improving written documentation as well as our video how-tos.
Recently, we were revising some installation documentation and the project engineer didn't feel some of the changes were necessary because, "Everyone knows that."
Looking up from her weekly customer call reports, one of our stars said, "Not real people."
To her, it's all about the customer.
Founder/CEO of OWC
Other World Computing
Keywords:customer service, customer support
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