In our telephone answering service business, we have approximately 1,300 customers. We manage to keep these customers for an average of six and a half years. This is a remarkable statistic when one considers that out of any group of businesses, 80% fail altogether every five years.
How do we accomplish this? Well, it’s a matter of providing excellent quality of customer service, of course. There is daily “customer service maintenance” work that must be done. We never let up on it, and in fact we have a separate department that performs this routine maintenance via telephone. It is performed day in and day out.
There are two parts to this department. One part does nothing but coddle new accounts. Once an account begins service, we call them the day after they are set up. Follow-up calls continue on a designated schedule: three, seven, fifteen, and thirty days after the initial start date. We pamper these new accounts to ensure they are satisfied with our services. (We also give them free answering service for 30 days, to make sure we understand that there could be problems, and to demonstrate to the client that we are very interested in them having a positive experience. What beyond-the-call-of-duty effort can you make to your customers?)
The other portion of the department calls every one of our clients at least once every 6 months, in order to check on any updates in their business: new staff, new protocols, new relay procedures, etc., and to see if there have been any problems.
It isn’t rocket science! Here are three simple steps to help you provide unbeatable customer service via your telephone:
- Come up with a written plan for how often calls are to be made to the new and old clients. Stick to the plan. Make sure it actually happens! (See the next step…).
- Create a separate department for this effort, or at least make it a priority to designate a specific employee to make these follow-up calls. Otherwise, if you make it a “if I have time” task, it will simply not happen over the long term.
- Let your team know the importance of this effort, and emphasize it is a number one priority from this day forward. You as a leader, must state its importance to the team and ensure they are following the plan.
It may be hard to determine how many accounts you lose due to not making these calls. You can’t measure lost business. However, you can measure an increase in business. Give yourself at least three months to calculate the effectiveness of this strategy.
This is where a premier quality business steps away from the competition: the willingness to set up separate departments to focus solely on customer service. Implementing this new strategy will take time, but one just has to have what we call “quiet courage:” take action and stick to the plan. We made this change in our answering service over 10 years ago, and we know it has been the determining factor in our client retention which is unmatched within the industry. My bet? You know it would make a difference in your business, too. You just have to do it!