What do I have to Manage? Customer Service – Part 2

Friday, August 27th, 2010

In the last newsletter, I explained all about the fully engaged customer, with a sample from the internet based business known as Zappos.  In this newsletter, I’ll continue with the levels of engagement – as categorised by the Gallup Organisation, but to maintain continuity, I’ll repeat the ‘fully engaged’ category.   (In the book “Follow this Path” by Curt Coffman & Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina)

FULLY ENGAGED CUSTOMERS:

These customers are

  • Responsive – this means that they pay their bills promptly;
  • Positive – they show a consistent pattern of effective use of your business’s service infrastructure because they learn about your business, and they are willing to try any new products and services, that you may provide.
  • Listeners – They are most likely to welcome any of your innovations and try new products and brand extensions.
  • Fair – They are least likely to submit unreasonable restitution claims.
  • Sustainable – They value long-term relationships with their brands and provider organisations – your business, as their supplier of choice.

A fully engaged customer sounds something like this:

“I thought that buying things was something that we just had to do, something to satisfy our basic needs.  But in the course of getting to know your products and being in contact with your organization I have learned that I can enjoy being your customer.  You have made me feel important and valuable; I can always count on you. I often ask myself this question: “Why didn’t I contact you before?”  You are not only the best there is – the way you make me feel as a customer is truly legendary.” (“Follow this Path” – emphasis – mine.)

ENGAGED CUSTOMERS:

These customers:

  • Collectively represent 20 to 25 percent of a company’s customers.  This group also includes customers who contribute a lot of their business but have not allocated the greatest proportion of their business to a single organisation.
  • Are sensitive to improvements in products as well as pricing policies.
  • Represent primary targets for products and may expand into additional services if a stronger emotional bond is formed.

An engaged customer sounds like this:

“I’ve flown with you a hundred times in the last year.  I’m supposed to be a Gold Card member with you and yet I ask myself this question:  “Did you see how badly the check-in clerk treated me?”  Actually I don’t think she discriminates among passengers.  She just treats everyone badly.” (“Follow this Path”: Curt Coffman & Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina.)

THE NOT-ENGAGED CUSTOMER.

These customers:

  • Reveal a pattern of relative indifference to the current engagement capabilities of a brand or an organisation.
  • Are inattentive and unresponsive to additional products or offers due to low purchase levels and usage of brands and products, or because of poor or non-existent levels of personal interaction with the organisation’s service infrastructure.

The not-engaged customer can sound like this:

“It doesn’t matter to me where I go to buy what I need, as long as the price is good and the place is nearby.  I pride myself on being a good shopper and searching out bargains.  Every store has them; it’s just a matter of finding them.  When I do, I get a whole lot of satisfaction.  As far as sticking with one store goes, why should I?” (“Follow this Path”: Curt Coffman & Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina.)

THE ACTIVELY DISENGAGED CUSTOMER:

These customers:

  • Account for the largest per customer service costs.
  • Are resentful and will take advantage of any opportunity at their disposal to cause you harm, either directly or indirectly.
  • Are resistant to any attempt by your employees to switch from a negative perspective, into a positive, restorative mood.
  • Are very unprofitable when one combines the relatively high costs with usually lower levels of revenue.
  • Are very hard to turn around.  It requires a significant effort or improvement in the experience to engage them, and many never become engaged.

The actively-disengaged customer sounds like this:

“This company is out to get as much as they can from customers; they mark up merchandise and then run “sales” to try to convince people they’re getting bargains.  I take pleasure out of pointing out to them that lower prices are available elsewhere, just to show them how wise I am to their tricks.  And I never think twice about complaining if the service or product isn’t up to par, which they usually aren’t.  You want to know why?  I hate these guys.  I won’t let my friends ever shop there.” (“Follow this Path”: Curt Coffman & Gabriel Gonzalez-Molina.)

Believe it or not – these guys actually exist!  Actively disengaged customers can be real trouble, and especially when you realise that as much as 20% of your customers may be in this category!

Remember, you don’t have to survey your customers to establish which category they fall into; you just have to know how engaged your employees are!  That will tell you all about your customers!

Research internationally has revealed that the scary thing about all this is the fact that almost half your work force will probably fall into the ‘engaged’ and ‘not-engaged’ category; and – when you add this to the ‘actively-disengaged’ category – it means there’s a huge opportunity for improvement.

The good news is that something can be done about it!