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Shocker! Poor customer service drives customers away

Sometimes I read things that are so patently obvious, I wonder why they’re even news. Accenture has released a survey of 4,100 consumers that determined that “service — more than price — is a clear differentiator” for who customers choose to work with.

I don’t know why this would be news to anyone, but apparently it is. I recall reading many years ago that there can only be one winner in the “competing for the lowest price” category, so you’d better compete on something else. (I think it was in the book Marketing Selling the Invisible, which is a GREAT book.)

Service is what consumers are paying for. Service is what your members are paying for. And yes, your database can help improve the level of the service you provide.

If you’re capturing transactions in your database (both financial and non-financial) then you already know a LOT about your members and customers. Now you have to use the data to elevate the level of your service. You do this by ensuring that you’re communicating with your customers in a way that they want to be communicated with, and about things that they want to know.

So now, especially in this economy, is the time to start leveraging the data you have, to improve the level of service to your members and customers. Here’s an article I wrote recently that provides some ideas.

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4 Comments on "Shocker! Poor customer service drives customers away"

Chris Bailey - 15 January 2009 Reply

Wes...sadly, while it's not news that service trumps price most companies still don't quite get it. Price is something that can be easily manipulated where service cannot. And to further complicate the issue, most companies don't understand that its their people systems and behavior toward employee engagement that fuel service. Data can help build relationships by connecting people. And it takes an organizational culture that believes that employees and staffers give the best service when they feel connected to their organization.

Wes Trochlil - 16 January 2009 Reply

Hey Chris, thanks for the post. Your observations are dead-on. It's much easier to "see" a price change than to see a service quality change, so that's usually what's tried first. Unfortunately, it's not what most customers are looking for.

Anh - 16 January 2009 Reply

I think these surveys serve as reminders to some businesses that they need to focus on service rather than pricing because we know they keep forgetting. Price can help with attracting prospects, but in the end, service is what retains the customers.

David M. Patt, CAE - 16 January 2009 Reply

I agree with you, Wes, but some companies may have other strategies. Do you want the cheapest hamburger, the one served the fastest, or the one with the most polite service. Will customers endure slow or impolite service to save money? Maybe.

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Testimonials

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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