25
Aug
08

Simple systems drive customer loyalty

customer-loyalty2A quick Neilism: “Systems set leaders free.” If you want consistency in customer service, satisfaction and retention, you must use systems. A football coach has his playbook – a collection of systems designed to produce specific results. What does your salon/spa’s playbook look like?
Customers are on the receiving end of your systems. If those systems are designed well and your team follows those systems with discipline and resolve, you have the best chance of achieving consistent and predictable results. If you’re lacking systems, or they’re poorly designed and not adhered to, your customers are on the receiving end of compromise. Your company phone won’t be answered correctly. Customers will be on hold too long. Problems will take longer to resolve. Retention will suffer.
Simple or complex, customer loyalty systems just make work move smoother. I stopped at a diner for breakfast with a client. It was one of those popular and very busy local spots with lots of character. The waitress would come by and pour some decaf for my client and some hi-test for me. She had a lot of tables to take care of and I began to wonder how she could remember who had decaf or regular. I decided to ask. “It’s simple,” she said, “the decaf cups have two red rings around the top and the cups for regular have one black ring.” Duh. What a simple and efficient system.
Here is a hit list of do-it-now strategies you can use to implement systems to drive the customer loyalty business outcome:
* Go critical. Begin identifying the critical areas in your business that have the greatest impact, positive and negative, on customer loyalty. Prioritize this list and assign teams to design, test and implement the new systems.
* Set time standards for all points of contact with customers including: answering calls within three rings; greeting and acknowledging customers within thirty seconds; never leave a customer on hold for more than two minutes, etc.
* Connect the dots. Tie your critical numbers for customer loyalty, specifically your first-time retention rate, as one of the qualifiers for a bonus payout. This sends a clear message to employees that if the company can’t maintain satisfactory retention rates, it can’t afford to pay bonuses. We have a coaching client who bases 50 percent of the bonus payout on his company’s ability to maintain a first-time retention rate of 50 percent or better. He’s been working this for over a year and his first-time retention has never dropped below 54 percent.
* Collect key data. Are you collecting data on customer preferences, order history, birth date, what their favorite sport is, or any other data that can help your company personalize and customize each customer’s buying experience? What are your systems for collecting this data and getting it into a central database for service providers, sales and customer service representatives to access? If you allow client data to reside in the memory cells of your service providers, don’t complain when clients follow them when they leave. To build a company relationship with clients, you’ve got to work at it.
* Dealing with customer problems. What’s your system to ensure that problems, even the smallest concerns, are documented and reported so follow-up actions can be initiated? What’s the paper or document trail? Who follows up with the customer? When?
* Identifying and filling customer needs. Is there a system for your sales or customer service staff to follow to design the best solutions? The last thing you want in your business is an “order taker.” Taking an order is ordinary. Customizing a prescribed service and product regimen to truly satisfy a customer’s needs is extraordinary.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

customer-loyalty2A quick Neilism: “Systems set leaders free.” If you want consistency in customer service, satisfaction and retention, you must use systems. A football coach has his playbook – a collection of systems designed to produce specific results. What does your salon/spa’s playbook look like?

Customers are on the receiving end of your systems. If those systems are designed well and your team follows those systems with discipline and resolve, you have the best chance of achieving consistent and predictable results. If you’re lacking systems, or they’re poorly designed and not adhered to, your customers are on the receiving end of compromise. Your company phone won’t be answered correctly. Customers will be on hold too long. Problems will take longer to resolve. Retention will suffer.

Simple or complex, customer loyalty systems just make work move smoother. I stopped at a diner for breakfast with a client. It was one of those popular and very busy local spots with lots of character. The waitress would come by and pour some decaf for my client and some hi-test for me. She had a lot of tables to take care of and I began to wonder how she could remember who had decaf or regular. I decided to ask. “It’s simple,” she said, “the decaf cups have two red rings around the top and the cups for regular have one black ring.” Duh. What a simple and efficient system.

Here is a hit list of do-it-now strategies you can use to implement systems to drive the customer loyalty business outcome:

  • Go critical: Begin identifying the critical areas in your business that have the greatest impact, positive and negative, on customer loyalty. Prioritize this list and assign teams to design, test and implement the new systems.
  • Set time standards for all points of contact with customers including: answering calls within three rings; greeting and acknowledging customers within thirty seconds; never leave a customer on hold for more than two minutes, etc.
  • Connect the dots: Tie your critical numbers for customer loyalty, specifically your first-time retention rate, as one of the qualifiers for a bonus payout. This sends a clear message to employees that if the company can’t maintain satisfactory retention rates, it can’t afford to pay bonuses. We have a coaching client who bases 50 percent of the bonus payout on his company’s ability to maintain a first-time retention rate of 50 percent or better. He’s been working this for over a year and his first-time retention has never dropped below 54 percent.
  • Collect key data: Are you collecting data on customer preferences, order history, birth date, what their favorite sport is, or any other data that can help your company personalize and customize each customer’s buying experience? What are your systems for collecting this data and getting it into a central database for service providers, sales and customer service representatives to access? If you allow client data to reside in the memory cells of your service providers, don’t complain when clients follow them when they leave. To build a company relationship with clients, you’ve got to work at it.
  • Dealing with customer problems: What’s your system to ensure that problems, even the smallest concerns, are documented and reported so follow-up actions can be initiated? What’s the paper or document trail? Who follows up with the customer? When?
  • Identifying and filling customer needs: Is there a system for your sales or customer service staff to follow to design the best solutions? The last thing you want in your business is an “order taker.” Taking an order is ordinary. Customizing a prescribed service and product regimen to truly satisfy a customer’s needs is extraordinary.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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