By Dick Stark
Note: the following article was from last Friday’s internal Weekly Star company newsletter. As such, it is intended for RightStar employees, but I’m posting it on my Blog for anyone else to read.
I visited a RightStar SDE customer this week. For many reasons, mostly due to customer budget cuts, customer project staff turnover, and customer delays, the project has not gone well and work still remains to finish the project. The customer has also informed us that internal budget cuts mean they will not be able to spend any more money at this time. With five to ten days of work remaining should we abandon the project and walk away, or salvage what we can by providing free services to complete the job?
Customer satisfaction, or “every customer a reference,” is a RightStar customer motto and a critical success factor for RightStar. Why is it sometimes so difficult? What can we learn from satisfied and dissatisfied customers?
Every customer a reference may be a slight stretch, since some customers may never be fully satisfied, no matter how hard we try, but thanks to social media, we have what’s now referred to by internet marketing expert Gary Vaynerchuk, as the Thank You Economy. According to Gary, “The Internet has given consumers back their voice, and the tremendous power of their opinions via social media means that companies and brands have to compete on a whole different level than they used to.” As a result, most customers now feel entitled to excellent service and select vendors, on the basis of good service, not product or price. Here are ten customer loyalty ideas (thanks in part to Shep Hyken).
- Deliver great customer service. It’s expected.
- Always do what you say you will do.
- Don’t be late.
- Don’t make excuses or blame others – be accountable.
- Help solve their problems. Differentiate between customer requirements and specifications. The customer specification (or SOW) is what the customer has asked for. The customer requirements are those that remove obstacles to customer satisfaction. Work hard to deliver the customer specifications first and try to reserve some time for the actual customer requirements.
- If you catch a problem, call them before they call you. No surprises, ever! Keep your customer informed throughout the entire job. A short daily email informing the customer of your daily activity is required. Remember, if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.
- Trust them, if you want them to trust you. Learn as much as you can about the customer’s business. If it is a service desk, ask to spend some time in the call center. If it is an asset tracking requirement, make sure you get a tour of the warehouse.
- Be accessible and easy to reach.
- Return phone calls, emails and social media comments quickly.
- Create confidence. (Do all of the above and we will be off to a good project start)