A conversation with a client this week prompted some thinking on my part about the importance of providing consistent customer service. This particular client has been on our ServiceConnect program since 2006. Like most clients, their performance was not spectacular for the first few years. However, somewhere around five to six years ago, it improved rather dramatically. This particular client is not always the top performer, but it is generally in the top ten consistently.
In talking with one of the managers there, he mentioned some noticeable changes. In two critical areas, the company’s market share had improved. They had also landed a significant new project because of the recommendation of another customer. His focus, rightly I might add, was ideas to move the quality of their customer service even higher. But there is another message, and it has to do with how consistent your company’s service is.
To illustrate, I will share an experience from a consulting engagement many years ago at a trucking company (let’s call it Grand Transport). There was, and is, intense competition in the L-T-L (less than truckload) freight market. Of course price is important but also important is the delivery time from point A to point B. As part of this project, there were several cities the company served but its market share was much less than expected. After all, the company was offering the fastest service available in these cities. It should get a higher share. Interviews with several key customers helped us understand why the company was not getting its share. As one customer told me, Grand Transport does have the fastest service between Atlanta and New York. He did not use the company because sometimes the freight gets there within the promised three days and sometimes not. In words, I will never forget, “I sleep better when I use the carrier who promises four days and gets it there within four days nearly all of the time.”
Customers want many things from a supplier but most importantly they want to know that the service product they receive is consistent from one time to the next. While it is important to have a great service product it is just as important to have a consistent product from one time to the next. You make the decision of where to go for service easier. A side benefit is your customers may sleep better!
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