Customer Service Programs

Customer service goes well beyond the responsibilities of the customer service department. Corporate customer service is all about enhancing the customer experience by exceeding customer expectations. Modeling the customer service process and measuring the key components of this model is at the core of this program. Most companies focus way too much on internal corporate issues and rarely look at their company objectively through the eyes of their customers.

Customers are interested in one thing and one thing only …. Does the “output” of your company meet their needs, or better yet, exceed their needs.

It is the “Output” that defines the “Customer Experience”. The “Output” and how you package it, becomes your “Value Proposition”, and your “Value Proposition” becomes the very heart of your “Brand Identity”.

The program has 5 key elements:

    1. Customer Satisfaction Survey – while performing a customer satisfaction survey may not be require it is highly suggested. A case can certainly be made that any company knows most of the needs of its customers and, therefore, does not need to go through the time and expense to have each of the key customers audited. 

      Having said this, the customer satisfaction survey can play a very important role in opening up the lines of communication between the company and its key customers, if the company has the resolve to modify the company based on the survey results, and follow-up with the customers on the changes made as a result of their input, in a formal manner. 

      Most company surveys are short forms, sent out each year to a company’s customer base and have a very small response rate …. Less that 15%. The data is collated and compared to the previous year. Based on the comparative data, some changes may be made in the way the company does business, but usually nothing substantial changes.

      Business Avionix has had customer feedback well in excess of 50% with the survey having both multiple choice, and open ended questions. The questionnaire pushes for constructive criticism and encourages comparisons of services offered by other non-competitive suppliers.

      Data is collected, integrated intro a summary report with “items for Improvement” clearly outlined.

    2. Customer Communication – For those customers that responded to the survey a follow-up letter is sent out that thanks them for their input and lists a few of the items that the company plans to modify. This is only a partial list, but it keeps the lines of communication open.
    3. Company “Output” Business Model – the feedback for the customer base will be a great help is building the “Output” business model …. Everything that leaves the company goes to the customer in the form of verbal communication, written communication, performances on promises made, customer attentiveness, the quality of goods and services, the “on-time-deliver” of goods, services and commitments, and so on, and this makes up the total corporate “Output”.

      I am reminded of a statement that Mats Jansson, CEO of SAS Airlines made when he said … “… the image of SAS Airlines is based on the interaction of a customer with five of our employees for less than one minute per interaction ..”.

      The corporate “Output” has many elements and most can be listed. Once listed the performance on each can be measured in some manner. Once measured, it is possible that an overall rating, part internally generated and part externally generated by the customer, can be determined and the managed.

      The measurement of the “Output” is, in essence, the measurement of the “Customer Experience”. While we all wish we could exceed our customer’s needs, the first step is to identify and meet customer needs.

    4. Corporate Changes – These types of surveys generally result in a dozen or more really good ideas, some of which have been mentioned by a multiple of respondents, while others mentioned by only one. Many can be implemented almost immediately. The company must determine what they intend to do based on this customer feedback.
    5. Broadcasting Changes to Your Customer Base – once the change process is in full swing, the customer base can be contacted again, making them aware of the changes that have been made as a result of the initial survey. As a matter of fact, all changes, even those that had nothing to do with the survey, can be attributed to the survey. This sends out a clear message to the customer base that the company listens to them, and responds. This will begin to set up lines of communication with your customer base never before thought possible.
    6. Customer Needs Analysis – Any primary demand development program most be focused around the satisfaction of customer needs within each marker segment. While one might argue that customer needs are generic, each market segment needs to be evaluated to ensure that any needs specific to a targeted market segment are identified.

This type of program, if managed properly, will become a key element of your product offering and, in most cases, enhance the differentiation between the company and its competitors.

These are the type of programs that help to turn satisfied customers into loyal customers.

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Girouard1@cox.net

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The Business Avionix Company, Inc.
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Newport, RI 02840