A Long-Term Approach to Customer Relationships
How to create a charter for customer care.
Posted Apr 21, 2003
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Success in business comes down to the quality of the vision, philosophy, values, and delivery mechanisms mandated by management throughout the company. The importance that your organization places on the concepts of customer centricity, responsible selling, customer support, product quality, and innovation will set in stone the character of the organization. The decisions and support that senior management mandates and follows through on will decree the health, profitability and longevity of the company. Make an investment in the future by having a customer relationship charter that if followed will insure the organizations chances for a future. Why? Business survival. It will align the organizations within the company to increase customer retention through earning customer loyalty. Customer loyalty is gained through delivery of products and services in a manner that enables the business application to work for the customer's business. The Core Values Understanding the customer's needs and be willing as a company to accommodate them. Provide product innovation. Provide customer service. The Rewards Competitive advantages: Increased buyer loyalty means they don't shop the competition for products and services that they thought they were getting from your company. Quality delivery makes it unnecessary. Improving retention just 5 percent could double profits in 10 years, according to Bain & Co. Increased revenue: Through increased sales, referrals, and confidence provide growth. Customer satisfaction: Satisfied customers breed other customers. You know the old saying that goes something like "Satisfy one customer and they'll tell two" and "Fail to satisfy one customer and they'll tell ten." Perform correctly and they will enjoy being a reference for your next sale. Industry sources say "very satisfied" customers are six times more likely to buy than merely "satisfied" customers; it's 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current customer; and, you'll never get 100 percent satisfaction, and you couldn't afford it anyway. You'll never get 100 percent satisfaction, and you couldn't afford it anyway. Company Goals Creating an understanding that the focus on customer needs is the goal. It is the key to attraction, retention, and maintaining a business leadership position in any industry. A company's business survival is based on the strength of three key elements and the importance that each and every employee places on them: customers; employees; shareholders. So the charter becomes, create a plan that provides for the following:
  • Feedback from the customers Surveys
  • Cross discipline issues Business culture
  • Value discipline Invest in thinking about customers Change perceptions, attitudes, products, and service.
  • Business process and IT alignment Systems that keep customers informed on service issues. Trouble ticket notification
  • User groups Customer input
  • Create a customer care unit A way around roadblocks
  • Create realistic action plans Communicate with your customers These and other organization specific pieces will create an internal bond and one that spills out into customer land. Get senior management buy-in. It's an imperative that you will not succeed without. In the end, if the senior management wants growth, less employee churn, a sale that sticks and invoices that get paid and oh yes, references, then backing is mandatory. It can be done; the most successful companies do it for their very survival. About the Author David Weiss is president of Customers Care Management Inc. a customer care consulting organization with focused direct hands-on experience in providing consulting guidance to sales and service companies in all major industry segments. He is a founding member of the CRM-A Philadelphia area chapter and The AFSMI Delaware Valley chapter and serves as membership chair in each organization.
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