Are Your Customers Really as Happy as You Think?

Posted on by Greg Cholmondeley | No Comments »

by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, PODi and Caslon & Company

Ask any print or marketing services provider about their customer service and you can be sure they’ll tell you that it’s great … but is it really? Did you know that over 80% of all organizations believe they are delivering superior customer service but that only 8% of their customers agree? Given how critical customer satisfaction and advocacy is … that makes me say “hmmmmm.”

So, today I asked Jeff Sierra, President/CMO, Mind Fuel, about his thoughts on the subject. He’s worked with numerous print and marketing services providers as well as with companies like The Walt Disney Company, Ford Motor Company, and Pfizer on improving customer service and he is teaching an upcoming PODi Institute course for print & marketing services providers titled “Delivering Exceptional Customer Service.”

First, we talked about some of the causes for this incredible disconnect between what companies believe and what their customers feel. He quoted a statistic from a study, which extends well beyond our industry, showing that typical businesses only hear from about 4% of unsatisfied customers.  It also indicated that 91% of unsatisfied customers who leave will never come back. While I can’t personally corroborate these numbers, they fit with my experience. Go online and look at customer comments. Most are either from people who are really upset or from those who are really happy. Few people bother to take the time to comment when services are adequate or slightly less than desired.

Next we discussed why customer satisfaction might not be as high as you think, even when you’re consistently meeting their SLAs. Funny thing, it turns out that delivering what your customers ask for when they say they need it is not always sufficient for making them happy. Jeff has a list of 8 things that all customers want and another list of 7 things which great companies do to drive customer service. Here are a few highlights:

  • Acknowledgement: It’s amazing how often companies don’t acknowledge customer problems and their importance. In the worst cases, people get defensive and try to justify why “that isn’t a problem, we did what you asked.” Other times, we immediately try to find a solution to start fixing whatever is wrong. While the latter is a lot better than the former, if you don’t take at least a few seconds to acknowledge a customer’s problem and indicate that you understand it and how important it is, your customer won’t be truly satisfied … even if you fix it.
  • The right people and the right processes: Being a CSR or an Account Coordinator is a tough job which requires a certain attitude, personality and job knowledge to pull off. Hiring the right people for these key customer-facing positions is critical. That being said, however, success is not simply due to personality. The best companies have formalized processes and escalation procedures along with a culture where everyone in the company views themselves as customer facing.
  • Consistency across channels: Companies use an increasingly wide variety of channels to interact with clients including: face-to-face, phone, email, online chats, and others. Having consistency of approach, processes, and communication across all these channels is often an area where customer service breaks down. The best companies can handle all these channels with the same level of professionalism.

These are just a few thoughts to consider about how to achieve great customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction is critical in the highly-competitive print and marketing services marketplace and it is imperative that companies don’t just assume that theirs is good enough. If you suspect that you might have some gaps, you might want to consider signing up for Jeff’s course. It’s interactive, online with weekly 1-hour classes for 4 weeks specifically designed for print and marketing services providers. Besides providing more insights and information, Jeff will be coaching individual students in putting these concepts into practice.

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