Monday, April 14, 2008

A Checklist for Success

Most of my blogs during the past year have discussed various aspects of customer loyalty. Some of the topics I have covered include: customer satisfaction; how to achieve effective customer relations; customer satisfaction versus customer loyalty; conflicts and issues relevant to customer loyalty; a prescription for building customer partnerships; employees as internal customers and resources; the link between employee morale; and customer loyalty.

In order to build a loyalty-based customer service operation, all aspects of a company must be integrated cohesively so each area contributes directly or indirectly to quality, customer satisfaction and continued customer loyalty.
The following checklist identifies four critical areas that must be aligned in order to develop and sustain devoted customer partnerships.
Respond to each statement using a rating of:
O=not at all, l=minimally, 2=moderately or 3=significantly

A. Identify homogenous customer segments and determine the kinds of customers to whom you can deliver superior value. _____
B. Understand your target customers and, determine specifically how you are going to keep them. _____
C. Identify specifically which, where and how often customer expectations have been met, or not. Remember, what ever the customer says is a problem, is a problem! _____
D. Determine accurately your company’s ability and willingness to handle customer complaints and inquires effectively. Identify specific procedures. _____
E. Determine accurately the extent to which your recovery process reduces defections or retains customers who might other wise switch to the competition. _____
F. Identify the percentage of your customer base at risk. _____
G. Maintain programs to ensure customer retention throughout the product or service lifecycle. _____
H. Establish multiple levels of, and vehicles and opportunities for, interactive communication with your customers (do you have specific examples?) ____
I. Articulate specific examples of how your company earns the personal trust, respect and devotion of each customer. _____
J. Assess the meaningful reciprocal allegiance between your company and your customers and describe specific ways in which each feels and demonstrates some obligation to the other. _____

A. Add new products and services based on your customers’ changing needs and desires. Cite specific examples. _____
B. Anticipate evolving customer needs and wishes and then make wise intuitive market judgments based on accurate intelligence-gathering and analysis. Describe the proactive process. _____
C. Scrutinize your products and services from the perspective of the customer’s expectations, on a regular and ongoing basis, to determine the variance or gap between expectations and _____
D. Keep customers actively involved throughout the product or service lifecycle. _____

A. Understand and state clearly the shared purpose between the company and the employee. ____
B. Employees have integrated the company purpose and standards into their work life. How do you know? _____
C. Ensure management decisions and behaviors are congruent with the stated vision and goals of the company. _____
D. Design operating structures and incentives to empower front-line staff to take the initiative to delight your customers _____
E. Implement an effective retention strategy aligning employees’ enlightened self-interest with the company’s interests. _____
F. Ensure every employee understands thoroughly their personal contribution, their roles and responsibilities, in the overall activities of the company. _____
G. Articulate specific examples of how the company earns the trust, respect and confidence of its employees. ____

A. Determine the actual cash flow consequences of changes in customer loyalty, defections and losses of target customers. ____
B. Determine the financial impact of poor quality and specific customer problems. ____
C. Set quality priorities based on market revenue impact. ____
D. Measure each priority area accurately and continuously. ____
E. Review the results regularly with top management. ____
F. Calculate the market impact of quality and service to determine the profit value of a customer. ____
G. Identify the number of customers experiencing problems. ____
H. Determine percentage of customers having problems. ____
I. Find the impact of specific problems on customer loyalty. ____
J. Assess the specific impact of service systems on loyalty. ____
K. Determine the actual financial payoff for problem prevention. ____

First review your scores by section to determine categories of strength and/ or weakness. If your ratings overall fall within the two to three range, congratulations!

Otherwise, you may want to get more directly involved with specific problem areas.
Remember, this abbreviated check list encompasses a broad range of issues relative to customers and service which I have discussed throughout the year. You also may want to refer to previous blogs for more comprehensive coverage of specific situations and solutions.

The benefits of quantifying the bottom-line impact of customer loyalty should be self-evident. It allows you to identify and prioritize the problems based on accurate assessment, implement specific solutions for each problem, then measure the results constantly.

Top management must be an integral participant and committed to achieving customer-focused business partnerships. Take subsequent action based on the outcomes and require performance accountability.

Finally, don’t forget to communicate effectively and often with every one involved.

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