Impact Learning Systems

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The Experience is the Brand (Part 1) Malcolm Carlaw

Your rep­u­ta­tion is based on your customer's expe­ri­ence. Fix­ing or pre­vent­ing prob­lems is half of the ser­vice equa­tion; com­mu­ni­cat­ing with cus­tomers is the other half. Cus­tomer ser­vice is as impor­tant, if not more impor­tant than the imme­di­ate res­o­lu­tion of the problem.

Let me give you an exam­ple: I have been doing busi­ness for 10 years with a local sup­port com­pany I'm going to call Manyana. I helped push them into man­aged ser­vices. They in turn have brought me some cool technology.service trumps price The Experience is the Brand (Part 1)

About a year ago, the pres­i­dent of Manyana cre­ated a pol­icy of not talk­ing to clients directly.  Emails yes; talk­ing to the techs— if you really pushed, but a con­ver­sa­tion with any kind of man­ager was out.  (I think he liked the man­aged ser­vices model and decided to extend it into the com­mu­ni­ca­tions arena). The lack of mean­ing­ful dia­log led to frus­tra­tion at our com­pany and Manyana soon became the object of office jokes. Their rep­u­ta­tion was ruined. Even if they resolved the prob­lem and pro­vided rea­son­able ser­vice, they were toast.

I now have a pro­posal on my desk from a Manyana com­peti­tor. The com­peti­tor will cost more money but will get my busi­ness. The dif­fer­ence between the two com­pa­nies is not the tech­ni­cal ser­vice but the cus­tomer ser­vice. Com­mu­ni­ca­tion skills count.

Price will always be impor­tant in a customer's pur­chase deci­sion, but "out­stand­ing ser­vice" is the num­ber one rea­son cus­tomers do busi­ness with a company.

The expe­ri­ence you pro­vide your cus­tomers is your brand. You may say "hey, I've lost two cus­tomers in the last three years. Cus­tomers feel my ser­vice is just fine."   It's true, tech­ni­cal ser­vices cus­tomers tend not to leave—but does that mean you have a happy cus­tomer or a good rep­u­ta­tion? Does that mean your cus­tomer would refer you to other com­pa­nies? It doesn't.

Cus­tomers that aren't happy:

  • Stay with you until a bet­ter alter­na­tive shows up
  • Become price sensitive
  • Openly com­plain about your ser­vice to pro­fes­sional associates
  • Look for ways to limit the ser­vices you provide

Note: The per­cent­age of peo­ple that will tell oth­ers about a bad cus­tomer expe­ri­ence has gone from 67% in 2006 to 84% in 2008 — Har­ris Interactive

Even if you've had a client for 10 years and have a per­sonal rela­tion­ship with man­age­ment you are not safe. Per­sonal rela­tion­ships are impor­tant but man­agers have a pro­fes­sional respon­si­bil­ity to a busi­ness and, at the end of the day, will judge your com­pany on the busi­ness ser­vice you provide.

Cus­tomers that are excep­tion­ally happy become loyal and will:

  • Never leave you for a competitor.
  • Pay higher prices for your services.
  • Refer your ser­vices to other companies.
  • Look for rea­son to do busi­ness with you.

These are the cus­tomers you want. Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion isn't dif­fi­cult if you pro­vide great cus­tomer ser­vice and make the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence some­thing to brag about.

Mal­colm Car­law cur­rently serves as the Exec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, a com­pany ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing world-class cus­tomer ser­vice and sales train­ing to front-line agents. He speaks reg­u­larly at trade shows and indus­try con­fer­ences. He holds an MBA in orga­ni­za­tional devel­op­ment and finance. Mal­colm is an avid pho­tog­ra­pher, enjoys inter­na­tional travel, and man­ages to keep his orchids bloom­ing most of the year.
2 The Experience is the Brand (Part 1)
Mal­colm Carlaw
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