The speed of today’s communications technology and social media choices like Twitter (News - Alert) and Facebook, plus the search capabilities of Google, combine to make rapid change inevitable. Quality and consistency can easily take a second seat to customer acquisition programs which ultimately could prove disastrous.
Using the food service industry as an example, let’s examine some scenarios that may also apply to the communications products and services industry. An unreasonable expectation would be that a family-style low-priced restaurant would be of higher quality than a Michelin two-star. However, consistency is a reasonable customer expectation regardless of the venue. Whether having a burger at a local diner or lasagna at a fine Italian restaurant, repeat customers expect the same quality and presentation over time. This point was emphasized by the owner of a popular local restaurant when he stopped by our table one evening. I inquired if the restaurant had changed its lasagna recipe. He emphasized it had built up a loyal clientele over 40 years based on quality and consistency and was genuinely concerned. He even brought the chef to our table for a taste test.
TMC (News - Alert) statistics show that 72 percent of customers are frustrated with inconsistent service across emerging channels, which indicates a similarity to the restaurant industry preferences for consistency. A major point here is that communications customers do not have company owners stopping by their desks to inquire about quality. If they are unhappy, they simply go away over time. Posting satisfaction surveys on your site or emailing them generally gets limited results, so you may have to do it the old fashioned way – by calling and talking to your customers.
A quarterly call and talk campaign should be adequate. The manager can probe quickly to identify positive or negative trends and suspected customer care inconsistencies. More importantly, 90 percent of customers still prefer live agent interactions. (Erik Linask (News - Alert), TMC’s group editorial director, talked about that in his January column in CUSTOMER magazine, a sister publication to INTERNET TELEPHONY). Today’s environment means customers can quickly find alternative solutions. The cost of servicing your current base is far less expensive than replacing those customers and getting them operational.
Of course, customer acquisition is still essential. According to a TMC reader survey, more than 77 percent of our readership uses INTERNET TELEPHONY to discover new and innovative technologies, so visit www.tmcnet.com and determine how TMC can help your acquisition campaign.
Max Schroeder (News - Alert) is Vice President Emeritus of FaxCore Inc. (www.faxcore.com) and managing director of the DPCF.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi