Customer Satisfaction and Retention
Recently, I’ve been dealing with a solicitor regarding some routine property issues. After an initial meeting, I have been in contact with the firm by email and phone over a period of six months. Whilst the matters in hand are routine, the process has been slow and, to be quite honest a bit frustrating. Information that I had been promised didn’t arrived when it was due; emails had often not been returned until chased and this has also been the case with telephone calls. Last week I and a colleague had what will be the final meeting, to sign some documents and talk through some points. If the solicitor had been properly organised and the paperwork had been prepared, this should really have been a thirty-minute meeting: it lasted an hour. This inconvenienced me but also, this meant that he was spending more time on us than he needed to and time that he could perhaps have used on another client’s chargeable work.
During the meeting (an offer of tea or coffee might have been nice) we had a chat about the issues and some general topics, as you do, and the solicitor is a perfectly pleasant chap. However, I was quite surprised when during the conversations, he mentioned how important customer service was to him and how he tried to ensure that clients were treated as friends and how he insisted that all letters and emails are signed ‘warm regards’ as opposed to just kind ‘regards’. Now the service we received, was not terrible, the work was done within the time necessary frame, a couple of obstacles were negotiated, but I am fairly sure that if I had not been on top of the process then we could easily have run in to some potentially serious and costly issues. But as far as the solicitor was concerned, as long as the letters were signed with ‘warm regards’ then everything was OK.
Like most businesses, one of the things I monitor on a regular basis is where my clients (and candidates) come from. Is it from an advertisement, social media, a meeting at a security event or as a result of some direct sales or marketing activity? Whilst this varies over time, in recent years, an increasing amount of my work comes ether from previous clients or from referrals and introductions. This is great and not only because there is little attached cost attached to this form of business generation. It perhaps indicates that people I have worked with before are happy to work with me again and also happy to give my name to others. In some cases, a company will inform me of a vacancy, even though the last time we worked together I was unable to fill it: does this mean they are satisfied customers? Well, perhaps it does, but I take nothing for granted and we are constantly looking at how we can improve what we do.
I think the point here is that if you are really interested and concerned about customer care in your organisation (and why wouldn’t you be) then don’t just assume that some superficial tweaks here are there will change a poor or mediocre service into a good one. It is likely that unless you have examined all your business processes to see what can be improved, how it can be improved and attempted some sort of cost / benefit analysis, then just tinkering around the edges will make little difference. By making the process of dealing with your organisation easy and non-challenging; keeping promises; setting out and managing expectations and delivering against them, you can start to build a good reputation and begin to benefit from returning customers and referrals.