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matrix vision newsletter
Service Delivery Issue
February, 2009 - Vol 2, Issue 2
In This Issue
What is Customer Service?
Service Snippets
Technical Customer Service
Using Feedback to Improve Customer Service
Quick Links
Join Mailing List
Story of the Month
The staff at an old people's home were puzzled when one of the residents began gargling with Listerine. They asked her why but all she would say was that something had happened at the post-office. This is what actually occurred.
The old lady, who rarely ventured out, had visited the post office to post a letter.
She bought a stamp, and since there was a long queue behind her she stepped aside. She put her change in her purse, licked the stamp and put it on her letter. Despite pressing and thumping and licking it again, the stamp failed to stick.
"Excuse me, this stamp won't stick," said the old lady.
"You need to peel the paper off the back," explained the clerk.
The old lady put on her spectacles, fiddled for a few seconds to peel off the backing paper - and then licked the stamp again.
"It still won't stick," interrupted the old lady again.
"It's a self-stick stamp," said the assistant.
"Well this one isn't sticking at all - there's something wrong with it," demanded the old lady.
"Well it won't stick now because you've licked it."
"Well I'm totally confused now," said the old lady.
"Just give it here and I'll post it for you," said the cashier, and doing her best to explain continued, "These new stamps don't need licking. They are self-sticking. They save time. They are already sticky."
The old lady continued to look blankly at the assistant.
"Look," said the well-meaning but desperate post-office clerk, "Just imagine they've already been licked..." 
Which sent the old lady scurrying out of the door and across the road to the chemist. 

Service Quotes
"It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
 "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." 
Mahatma Gandhi
"If we don't take care of our customers, someone else will." 
Author Unknown 
"Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game.  Service wins the game."
Tony Alessandra
 "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want." 
Zig Ziglar
"Good leaders must first become good servants." 
Robert Greenleaf
"No person was ever honoured for what he received; honour has been the reward for what he gave." 
Woodrow Wilson
"The high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule...." 
Albert Einstein
Welcome to the matrix vision newsletter for February.  This month's newsletter is focussed on Delivering Service. As you can see in the excerpt from Ron Kaufman's article this topic is so relevant in the current economic climate.
This newsletter presents a few ideas and a few challenges on how to deliver excellent service in your business. We have articles including:
  • key definition of how service fits in a business philosophy,
  • some customer behaviour principles drawn from research 
  • some thoughts on customer service,
  • excerpts from a program on technical customer service and
  • the importance of feedback in improving customer service

Enjoy your reading and as always your feedback would be welcome!

If any of the information interests you and if you would like to find out how it can help you please contact us.  We would love to talk with you.
What is Customer Service?
Peter Drucker, the great management guru once wrote "the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer".
Bob AnsettI had the opportunity in the early 1980's to work as the National Training Manager in one of the legendary customer service companies in Australia.  That company was "Budget Rent-a Car" and its equally legendary and charismatic CEO Bob Ansett reinforced Drucker's message almost everyday.  Bob's paraphrase which he used at every opportunity was:
"Our job is to create a Customer and having done that, our job is then to serve the needs of the Customer". 
Bob's phrase was not just a message delivered to the troops by a distant CEO, but became part of the spirit of a company which gained a reputation for giving outstanding customer service and grew from a market share of 10% to a share of 57% in just a few years.
Another concept Bob introduced at Budget was that, once a month, each of the executives had to serve at least a full day behind the rental desk.  This, not only allowed the key decision makers in the business to interact with and get feedback from the customers, but also to see the difficulties often facing the frontline employees of the company.
Customer Service
To understand Customer Service we must first understand something about Customer Behaviour particularly in relation to dissatisfaction with the service they are given. The following represents a little of what we know about Customer Behaviour.
Dissatisfied individual and business customers tend not to complain.

Research tells us that for a loss of a few dollars more than 96% of customers don't complain.  For an average loss of around $140 - 31% of people don't complain. 

In one case after inadvertent production of a defective women's garment that cost $20 and tore after its first use, either the customer or the retailer returned only one in 2000 of the defective garments. 
This means that there are a lot of people out there who are dissatisfied with our product or service yet have not told us. 

Most common reasons for not complaining are:

  • It isn't worth the time and trouble 
  • They don't know how or where to complain
  • They don't believe the company will do anything about solving the problem
Studies have reported that people often believe it is a lot easier to switch vendors than complain. 
Retail, field sales and service systems filter and discourage complaints.
The average customer who complained to the headquarters of a major credit card company had previously tried to use routine channels an average of six times.  Both medical product manufacturers and insurance companies found sales representatives tended to forward complaints only when it would ingratiate them with an important customer, or when the product was of such low margin that the sales staff would rather see it discontinued.

Studies show that for serious problems there are 6 problems out in the field for every problem reported to head office, for less serious problems there are 2000 problems in the field for every problem reported to head office. (This may be because many of the problems are dealt with in the field.  However many are not.)
Problem experience results in substantial amounts of negative word of mouth. 
Coca-Cola found that people told an average of four to five people about their positive experience, while complainants told an average of 10 people about their negative experience.
Consumers who experience a problem and don't tell their provider tell twice as many people as satisfied consumers who do not experience a problem.
A Harvard study found that negative word of mouth had twice the market damage as positive word of mouth had a positive impact.
Brand loyalty can be retained merely by getting customers to articulate their problems.
For a loss of less than $5, of those customers who did not articulate the problem 63% stated they would not use that supplier again.
46% of those that complained but were not satisfied still remained brand loyal.
70% of those who articulated the problem and were satisfied remained brand loyal.  This went up to 95% for those customers who were satisfied quickly.
Thus brand loyalty can be retained by encouraging customers to complain.
At matrix vision we know how to use this understanding of customer service and customer behaviour to help you make your service even better.  Call us and we would be happy to talk with you. For our contact details CLICK HERE.

Service Snippets
Len Berry and his team of researchers at Texas A&M University have determined that the following five categories are most critical in showing that you care about customers and meeting their needs.
    • Reliability: Capability to deliver the service that was promised in a dependable, accurate and consistent way.
    • Responsiveness: Eagerness to help customers and deliver prompt service.
    • Assurance: Skill, knowledge, and courtesy of employees, and their ability to solve problems confidently and convey trust.
    • Empathy: Caring, individual attention, and relationship building extended to customers.
    • Tangibles: Products, services, and the appearance of buildings, facilities, and equipment. 
At Budget Rent a Car we used a Code of Customer Service called C.A.R.E.
This represented a a set of service skills that were designed to achieve the kind of service that Budget was renowned for.  It was a mnemonic that enabled staff to remember the key elements to superior service:

C - Concern
A - Attitude
R - Recognition
E - Enthusiasm

We developed a training program outlining each of the elements and I even made a training film. I am sure that there are a number of readers who would get a kick out of seeing me as I was over 20 years ago.
These timeless skills of Customer Service are still a key component of the matrix vision "Delivering Superior Customer Service Program" CLICK HERE

I just finished reading an article by Ron Kaufman called "In Challenging Times, Service Matters Most". Here is an excerpt from that article:
As the wind of economic cycles blows hard, some businesses try to contain costs by cutting corners on customer service. This is exactly the wrong thing to do, because service matters now more than ever.
Here's why:

When people buy during an economic downturn they are extremely conscious of the hardearned money that they spend. Customers want more attention, more appreciation and more recognition when making their purchases with you, not less.
Customers want to be sure they get maximum value for the money they spend. They want assistance, education, training, installation, modifications and support. The basic product may remain the same, but they want more service.
Customers want firmer guarantees that their purchase was the right thing to do. In good times, a single bad purchase can be quickly overlooked or forgotten, but in tough times, every expenditure is scrutinised. Provide the assurance your customers seek with generous service guarantees, regular follow-up and speedy follow-through on all queries and complaints.
In tough times, people talk more with each other about saving money and getting good value. Positive word-of-mouth is a powerful force at any time. In difficult times, even more ears will be listening. Be sure the words spoken about your business are good ones!
Supervision, March 09 Vol 70 Issue 3 
Technical Customer Service
ServicemanTechnical Customer Service People are usually very good tradespeople but often have little or no concept of customer service.
Several years ago I worked for James Hardie Industries.  The company at the time was a conglomerate in that it consisted of many different businesses.  Many of the businesses had people who were Technical Repair and Maintainence Personnel.  These people had the responsibility for the technical service of such varying equipment as access control systems eg card readers & boom gates, air conditioning systems and fire extinguishing systems. 
Generally their concept of customer service only extends to ensuring they analyse the technical problem and use their expertise to solve the problem. They are often unaware that there is a second dimension to customer service and that involves how the customer feels about the transaction.  As a result we put together and conducted a customer service workshop for the Technical Service People.  An excerpt from that program follows. 
Maintain a Professional Image While Diagnosing and Making the Repair
Maintain a professional image while you perform the service for the customer.  This is accomplished by doing the following:
Keep your equipment, tools, and work area as neat as possible.  Act as if you are an employee of your customer's company.  Do not do anything that might reflect negatively on your customer or your customer's organisation.

Minimise interruptions to the customer's business.   Work as quietly as possible and keep your working area as small as possible. Interact with employees only as necessary to get your work done quickly and efficiently.

Test the equipment following the repair, as necessary, to make sure that the problem has been completely eliminated.   Be prepared to demonstrate to your customer that the equipment is now fully functional, if your customer requests a demonstration.

Straighten up the work area after the repair is completed.   Try to leave the work area even better than you found it. This is an important part of maintaining your professional image.  Beyond that, it is very important psychologically for the customer.  You may have done an excellent job of repairing the equipment You may have completed the repair in record time.  However, if you fail to clean the equipment after the repair, or if you leave the work area messy, your customer will be left with the impression that the job was not completed or was poorly done.
Keep the Customer Informed While the Repair is Being Completed
Make a point of keeping the customer informed about what you are doing and how things are progressing.  When customers become upset and anxious, it is often simply because they are "in the dark" and are imagining things to be worse than they are.  Giving customers periodic "status reports" on the repair will reassure them that the repair is progressing.
If the repair is going to take longer than anticipated, or if it is going to cause disruptions in the customer's business, let the customer know this as soon as possible. It is better to give the customer such bad news sooner rather than later. Don't set up false hopes or expectations in the customer's mind. Make sure your estimates of the extent of the problem and the estimated time need for the repair are accurate. If you're not sure about the amount of time the repair will take, make your estimate a very conservative one. Your customer may not be pleased initially with your estimate, but it is far better in the long run if you complete the repair in advance of the time you have stated rather than exceeding your original estimate.
If you need to leave the premises, let the customer know you must leave. Explain your reasons for leaving and give the customer an idea of the amount of time you will be gone.
When you give your reason for needing to leave, state it in terms of the benefit to the customer. For example:
A special part is required for the repair. The quickest way to fix your equipment is for me to go and get that part now.
Instead of something like: 
I need to get a part. Nobody is available to bring it here right now, so I'm going to pick it up myself.
To find out more about how we can build on the service provided by your technical people in the field give us a call. We would love to talk with you.  For our contact details CLICK HERE.
Using Feedback to Improve Customer Service
20/20 Logo 
Matrix Vision is a value added reseller and a user of the most powerful and versatile feedback software tool available today.
People need an efficient, confidential and anonymous vehicle for giving feedback to each other. State-of-the-art software can simplify the process of collecting multi-source (360) feedback for anyone in your organisation.
20/20 Insight GOLD is the world's most versatile feedback tool. With this system, we can set up surveys to collect virtually any type of feedback-ideas, opinions, impressions, ratings - from any number of people about the performance of an individual, a team or even your organisation as a whole.organisation.
Using Feedback to Improve Customer Service
We all know customer satisfaction is essential to the survival of our businesses. How do we find out whether our customers are satisfied? The best way to find out whether your customers are satisfied is to ask them. 
We can use the results of a customer survey to:
  • investigate their suggestions.
  • fix the things the customers have complained about.  
  • improve our company and product in those areas the mean the most to the most of our customers.
  • to ensure we keep in place those things that they like.
Based on the messages from previous articles we need to have a mechanism to allow customers to complain.  It is through acting on customer complaints that we build a stronger brand loyalty.
At matrix vision we can design and adminster a Customer Satisfaction Survey tailored to meet your specific needs.  We have a survey library of around 95 survey items in the following categories:
  • Customer Focus and Commitment
  • Trust and Ethical Dealings
  • Delivery Performance
  • Product Quality
  • Pricing and Payments
  • Sales Representative Capability
  • Service Quality and Reliability
  • Service Accessibility and Responsiveness
  • Technical Support
  • Courtesy and Communication

We can work with you to choose and/or ammend any of the survey questions to build a survey that can give you the kind of feedback that customers do not readily share. We can adminster the survey and prepare a report that can help you improve your business. Please give us a call, we would be happy to come and talk with you about how we can help. 

To learn more about the power of 20/20 Insight Gold click on the image.

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To talk with us about how you can use feedback to help you improve your customer satisfaction, please contact us 

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Next month the theme of the newsletter will be "Self Management".
All the Best,
Barry Signature
Barry McMaster
Matrix Vision Pty Limited