Regaining Focus on True Customer Service
     Driving Business Through the Core Value




               By Michael O’Keef...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service



Introduction:

Is customer service taken for granted? When you have a good cus...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


If you look at the financial results of companies that are rated high in custom...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service



This paper is intended to show why positive customer interaction is important,...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


The grid below is an example of results by some of these companies above an a
f...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service



       Cheaper to retain and grow existing customers
   •
       Satisfied cus...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


for all employees, one that they strive to excel at. How many of your
employees...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


negative impact since one bad experience stays with that one customer and
does ...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


      A waiter or manager in a restaurant that is attentive can see a customer
...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


      Constant focus on customer impact (desire to exceed customer
      expect...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


personally visit every table to ensure things have gone well, but also to see
h...
Regaining Focus on True Customer Service


about ourselves, how our employees feel about themselves, and the business
resu...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Customer Service032608

616 views

Published on

Customer Service White Paper

0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
616
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
15
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Customer Service032608

  1. 1. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service Driving Business Through the Core Value By Michael O’Keefe President – O’Keefe Holding Group, LLC March 19, 2008
  2. 2. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service Introduction: Is customer service taken for granted? When you have a good customer experience, do you think how that applies to your business? How do you make customer service a core value? Every business talks about providing excellent customer service, but few really live the talk or consistently achieve it. How many companies actually invest in making improved customer interaction and service happen? How many really believe that adequacy in the pursuit of excellent customer interaction and service is not an option. Each year, companies implement a goal or objective to improve customer service, but all too often that objective gets pushed aside by what is seen as more immediate priorities, especially since outstanding customer service is not easy to measure (impact) on the company’s bottom line. The reality is that companies turn their primary focus on quarterly revenue and results. But, it also is a reality that companies need to invest, focus, and drive a commitment towards great customer interaction and service, if they want to deliver extraordinary results, especially when times get tough and competition intense. The problem with a short-term focus in a tight economy and with increasing competition, is that companies need to secure their customer base, which in part comes through customer service. What can companies do to gain a competitive edge? The answer is not a simple one, but starts with improved customer interaction and service. Customer interaction being the direct interaction between the employee and customer. Customer service is customer interaction plus the full experience (policies, processes, etc), that the customer experiences in dealing with your company. 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 2
  3. 3. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service If you look at the financial results of companies that are rated high in customer service, they have seen strong and above average revenue growth over the past several years. These companies all have a unique or quality product, but the truly world class also excel in customer service. It is my belief that the combination of product and customer service put these companies over the top and are key factors in their achieving strong results over time. My family recently took a Disney Cruise, and although my wife does not like to be on a ship, wants to book another Disney Cruise because of the experience. That experience had more to do with the level of service, and less to do with being on a ship. No matter where we went, and encountered cruise staff, they stopped what they were doing and greeted us with a smile and inquired how we were doing. Something so simple, but it made a lasting impression that will keep us as loyal customers, and is part of the reason for Disney’s reputation. In addition to treating customers well, companies and employees must know how to minimize the impact of negative customer issues. A customer can be dissatisfied for a number of reasons, but if they feel that they have been treated fairly and professionally, they will give the business a second chance. In an environment where poor customer service is all too prevalent these days, a concern and acknowledgement of their unhappiness can make a positive impact. Customer interaction and service applies to all industries, and all positions. Character does matter and is evident in our daily interactions. People buy from people, and when given a choice, if all else is perceived equal, will buy from those they like or who provide better service. This applies to all business, not just retail or hospitality, and will drive better results. 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 3
  4. 4. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service This paper is intended to show why positive customer interaction is important, identify actions to keep you better focused, change your team’s philosophy, and show the results that can be derived from excellent customer interaction and service. Top Company Results: Here are some of the companies that have been acknowledged for great customer service: USAA Washington Mutual Four Season Hotel & Resorts Cabela's Cadillac Raymond James Financial Norstrom Porsche Wegmans Food Markets Apple Edward Jones Publix Super Markets Lexus Hertz UPS FEDEX Enterprise Rent-A - Car JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts Starbucks T-Mobile The Ritz-Carlton Buick AMICA Insurance Lincoln Southwest Insurance * Business Weeks 2007 Customer Service Elite Are these some of the companies that you do business with? As you look at the financial results of those companies that are known for excellent customer service, their annual revenues continue to grow year over year and out perform their competition. Even in those cases in which revenues do not grow, great customer service can help keep them in the top ranks of their industries. 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 4
  5. 5. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service The grid below is an example of results by some of these companies above an a few I believe excel at customer service (many of the above are private companies or subsidiaries): COMPANY 2004 2005 2005 CHG 2006 2006 CHG 2007 2007 CNG Southwest Airlines $6,397.0 $7,412.0 15.87% $8,884.0 19.86% $9,587.0 7.91% Starbucks $5,294.2 $6,369.3 20.31% $7,786.9 22.26% $9,411.5 20.86% UPS $36,582.0 $42,581.0 16.40% $47,547.0 11.66% $49,692.0 4.51% Walt Disney Co $30,752.0 $31,374.0 2.02% $33,747.0 7.56% $35,510.0 5.22% Apple Inc. $8,279.0 $13,931.0 68.27% $19,315.0 38.65% $24,006.0 24.29% Costco Wholesale $48,109.9 $52,952.2 10.07% $60,151.2 13.60% $64,400.2 7.06% Washington Mutual $4,298.0 $5,096.0 18.57% $6,533.0 28.20% $6,042.0 -7.52% FedEx $24,710.0 $29,363.0 18.83% $32,294.0 9.98% $35,214.0 9.04% * Al Dollars are in Billions and based from Business Week online Financial reports One interesting fact is that a number of companies that excel at customer service are private companies and do not have to report quarterly results. It would be interesting to see how this impacts their focus on customer interaction and service. How much does it cost you to get a new customer? What is the value of a loyal customer? What is the cost of a lost and dissatisfied customer? When you answer these questions, you start to see how important customer interaction can be to your company. Consumer research suggests that every dissatisfied customer will tell 10 other people about their bad experience. Are you willing to take that risk? Without a strong commitment to customer service, employees can be exposing you to that risk every day. Understanding the importance of customer satisfaction, every company must find a way to drive more focus on the customer while supporting their other business and financial objectives. Why do world-class companies have such a strong customer commitment? When you look at the benefits, the reason is obvious. Benefits of good customer interaction and service are: 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 5
  6. 6. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service Cheaper to retain and grow existing customers • Satisfied customers spend more • Satisfied customers tell others about their experience (New customers) • Positive impact on employees and employee retention • Improved employee productivity • Making Customer Interaction Last: Many companies preach customer service or have customer service initiatives. But in many cases, as the year progresses and the need for reaching quarterly results intensifies, this objective becomes less important. The problem is that long-term results are compromised. A commitment to excellence and outstanding customer service cannot be turned on and off like a light switch. Suggesting that something is important, but then not following it drives cynicism. If you believe that people tend to do business with those whom they like, or treat them well (all other things equal), then customer interaction and service is still critical and must be consistant. How can companies instill a lasting commitment to customer interaction and service into its employees? The best way is for it not to be an “initiative”, but a core value and part of the company culture. Company culture is simply “the way we do things”. Leading by example, regular training, backed-up with a reward and recognition program, demonstrate that words have meaning and that excellent customer interaction and service is the only way to do business. When your employee’s are working with a customer, they must demonstrate that the customer is important to them. There needs to be pride associated with satisfying a customer, knowing that will drive business results. The importance of customer interaction and service has to become second nature 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 6
  7. 7. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service for all employees, one that they strive to excel at. How many of your employees see a customer problem arising before it happens? How many of your employees seek out customers to see if they need something? If the answer is not most of your employees, you may have a problem. If you are going to make customer interaction last, then a lasting impression must be made and it must be sincere (a customer either knows or will find out when someone is not being genuine). There are many ways this can be done; it just takes some effort and focus. Each specific market, environment, or situation will dictate how and what should be done, and it should be lasting. There is a weekly e-letter I receive called “WOW Marketing” by Joel Cohen that focuses on this very idea – how do you WOW customers, thus making them satisfied and loyal customers. The importance of customer interaction and service has to become part of your company’s culture (i.e., Disney, Costco, Ritz Carlton). This is not done through a one-time event, but an ongoing focus and reinforcement. Do your employees really care about their customer’s problems? If not, this is when the problem begins. Companies that excel at customer service find and keep those employees that live the culture and get rid of those who do not. Employees must have passion and believe in the product / service in order to achieve true success. The focus on customer interaction and service must be reinforced on a regular basis, rewarded and recognized. Minimizing Negative Customer Issues: Even the best companies cannot satisfy every customer all of the time. Some customers cannot be satisfied and they are not the ones you want to keep. However, no matter what, every effort should be made to minimize the 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 7
  8. 8. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service negative impact since one bad experience stays with that one customer and does not impact 10 more customers. This requires employees to be able to put themselves in the customer’s place, and relate to the customer, and show the customer that they understand their issue. This is true, even if there is not much that can be done to change the situation. Employees should be encouraged to show initiative and deal with a problem as promptly and effectively as they can. Problems happen, but if left unresolved, become bigger and have a greater negative impact. How many times have you contacted a company about an issue, and they do not get back to you to resolve it? How frustrated do you get? If they would just call you back and acknowledge the problem and your disappointment (even if unresolved), you would be unhappy, but probably just move on and do business with them in the future. But many times, they just do not get back to you, which then cause you to get even more frustrated. What may be a little issue becomes a bigger one, and now 10 people will certainly know how you were treated (with your own unhappy slant on the issue). In all customer interactions (i.e., a sales call or in a restaurant, etc), customer problems do not just happen, they build on events or situations. When employees are in tune with the importance of customer interaction and service, they can see issues developing. For example: A call center agent dealing with an unhappy customer. During the call, there are many opportunities to take a call from an unhappy customer and make it an event that solves the problem. But in many cases the agent does not care or try to understand the customer’s position. They just follow a script. This makes a bad experience, worse. 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 8
  9. 9. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service A waiter or manager in a restaurant that is attentive can see a customer becoming unhappy and intervene before it gets to be a bad situation. A customer not eating their food indicates something is wrong. But many times nothing is asked or done. You can bet, in most cases, that customer will never return and will tell others about this experience. The sales person on an important call, misses signs of an issue that will prevent sales and possibly lose the customer. There are reasons for a line of questions or posturing by a customer. We must always try to understand what is driving the customer and what they are driving towards. Character Matters: In all cases, the character of a company and its employees does matter. All customers deserve to be dealt with in an honest, truthful, and respectful manner. Customers know when they are not being told the truth, if not at the moment, they do find out, which will have a bigger impact. This does not require an employee to share every detail, but carefully divulge what information they can, understanding that the customer is what provides your paycheck, and we all work to provide a product and / or service to a customer, that should be extraordinary. Not being candid and truthful may provide short- term results, but cause long-term problems that negatively reflect on your company. Regaining True Customer Interaction Focus: How does a company establish true customer interaction focus? It starts from the top, but includes the following: Start with management involvement 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 9
  10. 10. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service Constant focus on customer impact (desire to exceed customer expectations) Pick a theme to focus on each day, week, or month Focus on making customers feel special - Inspire employees to WOW a customer or do something very unexpected Open communication with customers Show urgency in dealing with customers Minimize negative customer events Reward great customer service Understand the positive impact on results from great customer service Every company can deliver great customer interaction and service, but only a few will choose to do so. Will you choose excellence? Tracking and Measuring Impact: As with any business initiative, it is important that every effort is made to measure and track any initiative implemented. Although some customer interaction / service will be hard to measure, it should still be rewarded and encouraged. What you measure, and reward is what you get. Rewarding great behavior will cause it to spread. Everything starts with management and continues through the use of tools (i.e., survey’s, score cards / dashboard). How many of you’re managers actually get out and meet their customers to see how they are being serviced? How many regularly call customers? When previously leading sales teams, I would regularly call our customers to see how they were being handled, if any problems existed, and seek feedback. At my restaurants, I require every manager to personally visit every table. When I am at any of the restaurants, I 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 10
  11. 11. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service personally visit every table to ensure things have gone well, but also to see how we can serve them better in the future. Some times I can make a change based on a suggestion, and other times I cannot, but most customers appreciate that I gave them the time and listened. There is no substitute to leading by example. It is also helpful to use simple surveys to help drive the right behavior and to understand what is going on (positive or negative). As with any type of measurement, a scorecard needs to be created to track and report results, so decisions can be fact based and employees can be rewarded. Summary: Along with other company initiatives, a focus on customer interaction and service can help lead a company to long-term success. There are many ways that a focus on customer interaction and service can be achieved. But it takes focus, commitment, and a realistic plan that can be implemented to be successful. Along with the other important initiatives, companies should commit themselves to a standard of excellence in customer interaction and service. One that is stressed every day, week, or month. Running a successful business can be challenging, but it is the little things that make all the difference. While we strive for excellence, mistakes do happen. It is how we handle the mistakes that will drive either positive or negative results. Regaining focus on true customer service starts at the top and impacts every employee, especially those who interact with customers on a regular basis. Great customer interaction and service does make a difference in how we feel 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 11
  12. 12. Regaining Focus on True Customer Service about ourselves, how our employees feel about themselves, and the business results we hope to achieve. Are you ready to invest the time and effort to focus and commit to great customer interaction and service? About the Author: Michael O’Keefe is President of O’Keefe Holding Group, LLC, which owns several Foster’s Grille restaurants in the Atlanta Georgia area, and Customer Interaction Solutions consulting company, which assists companies to focus on improving customer interaction and service. Mr. O’Keefe has over 18 years of experience and has excelled at providing great customer service. He started his career with AT&T, much of which dealt with customers. Then went to a subsidiary of Bell Canada (Teleglobe), in which he drove a customer focus throughout the sales and marketing organizations. Michael spent the next 4 years with two small software companies leading the sales and marketing efforts, before starting O’Keefe Holding Group, LLC. Michael O’Keefe President – O’Keefe Holding Group, LLC okeefehg@bellsouth.net 404-432-5022 P.O. Box 689 Alpharetta, GA 30004 3/24/08 Property of O’Keefe Holding Group LLC 12

×