Turning Feedback into a Customer Service Advantage
Customers have always had a voice, but today it is louder than ever. Great companies want to hear from their customers. They want their feedback, opinions and anything else that will give them an advantage. And, great companies don’t wait to hear from their customers. They actively solicit feedback in the form of surveys and have programs in place to ensure they deliver an experience that makes their customers want to come back.
Recently I was asked about companies who have reaped rewards from surveying their customers and measuring their customer service. A few excellent examples came to mind.
Ace Hardware is one of the best examples of a company that uses surveys and measurement to stay successful. A network of privately owned stores, they are recognized for their helpful customer service. To ensure they are meeting their customers’ expectations, they participate in a mystery shopping program where a high score will “certify” them as “Ace Helpful.” Their goal is to be the most helpful hardware stores on the planet, and there is a direct correlation between a high score and a successful store. They go up against big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes. It’s a David versus Goliath story, and they use helpful, which is their version of customer service, to win. To their credit, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Ace Hardware “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores” for the seventh straight year! [Read Shep’s previous blog posts, Customer Service Goal: We Don’t Want You to Come Back and Customer Service is More than Just Being Nice, for more about how Ace Hardware’s customer service initiatives.]
American Express has had a tremendous turn around over the years. From a credit card company with typical complaints and customer dissatisfaction, they started using a short survey question that measures their “member” satisfaction at the end of a call. It’s the well-known Net Promoter Score question: On a scale of 1-10, what is the likelihood that you would recommend us? The call center employees’ bonuses are based on their scores. The management and executive bonuses are also tied to the score. This is one of their most important metrics. It’s not how fast they get through the call. It’s how well they take care of the customer. They are now recognized as a top customer service company, worldwide, in any industry.
Enterprise Rent-a-Car is another great example. They also use an NPS type of survey. Over time they became the number-one car rental company in the world – not just in size, but also customer satisfaction. They acquired Alamo and National Rental car, which at the time of the acquisition were at the bottom half of the top ten customer service companies in the car rental industry. Infusing the Enterprise culture of customer service and using surveys confirm what was working and what was not, they moved Alamo and National to being top performers.
Companies that track and measure their customer service have a competitive advantage. They know when they are doing a great job, and more importantly, they know when they aren’t. They take advantage of all data, good and bad, looking for opportunities to take their customers’ experiences to the highest level possible. The reward for this effort is more business from existing customers and new business from the excellent reputation they create in their marketplace.