July, 2013:

Why Suppliers Need to Work Together to Deliver Better Customer Service

Do you work in an interdependent environment, where suppliers can sink each other and you are often left with the customer screaming at you? The customer acquisition cost for everyone is just too high. On the other hand when the supply chain is working beautifully everyone wins. It is shown that satisfied customers add 15% to 20% to a bottom line, because acquisition costs lower dramatically, let alone the costs of correcting service breakdowns. In addition, employees love working for companies that pride themselves on service and the recruitment costs go down significantly as well. Destinations, airports, resorts, malls are all examples of highly interdependent environments. They absolutely count on each other and they can’t work in silos. They really need each other to deliver service well for all of it to work.

Have you ever thought of training or putting on an event where you could all learn together? As you are typically serving the same demographics, so it makes sense to align things. Interactive topics where attendees get engaged could include: trends, competitive analysis, service level standards, packaged pricing or cross-marketing opportunities. The list is endless and I love it when I get to do a needs analysis to develop the program to make it all happen. The results are fabulous and enable business growth for all.

As we all know the internet and social media – can pretty much connect us. Suppliers and clients, and even sometimes friendly competitors, often known as “co-opetition” can use this to their advantage. In the last several months, I’ve been fortunate to either be developing programs, delivering or attending an event for groups of suppliers who all work in an integrated, interdependent environment. The mystery shop results are amazing.

An Example of How Suppliers Can Learn & Work Together – Grand Cayman Aug. 15 2013
If you are a hotel sales & catering manager, tourism association, meeting planner, destination management company, airport, airline, incentive company or even a supplier at a world renowned destination, you may want to attend the SITE Florida/Caribbean Educational Workshop entitled “Destination Meets Incentive Travel 101” on August 15th, 2013 in Grand Cayman. This is in partnership with Cayman Islands Tourism. The attendees will be a cross-section of suppliers and the interactive content it directly focused on how attendees can explore ways to more synergistically work together to bring acquisition costs down and how to attract and retain more customers. For more information click here: http://siteflorida.tixclix.com/266?eid=22e2e15f2a79fa3b51179fda88d61dea

If your organization or association needs assistance in this area, send us an email to find out how we can help. info@elaineallison.com

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Why Every “Touch Point” Counts in Customer Service

What is a “touch point”? A touch point is every occasion when your customer sees or hears your name, logo or ad, visits you on-line or in person, or any point during the transaction from beginning to end.

The two reasons you must understand touch points are:

  1. A Service breakdown can happen at any touch point, resulting in loss of customers; and
  2. Analyzing touch points will help you recognize where you “add value”; delighting customers results in attracting and keeping more customers.

Exploring both of these issues and how to manage every touch point can improve your company tenfold. Having long periods of sustained competitive advantage no longer applies in our technological era, and with fewer and fewer touch points where a human being is involved, service better be great! We as humans are still analog – not digital beings – and we want great service. However, training budgets have been cut to the bare bones, and although companies “build” things to improve a touch point, they often don’t train their employees how and why they did it or even how to implement it. A new menu and remodeled storefront may look great, and “re-branding” with new logos and website may revitalize things to a degree, but if employees don’t understand “why” in context of each touch point, they will continue to do the same thing, or ignore the way the new item was meant to interact with the customer. Exploring touch points is where “things” meet “people”.

Examples of touch points for an airline:

  1. Choosing the carrier (usually on-line these days): finding the route, date, convenient time/connection and pricing. Then looking at reviews or just past experience.
  2. Check In counter: Easy to find and clearly marked, with efficient queue management and seat selection. Now with on-line check-in and no checked bags, customers can miss this touch point altogether, so there is no room to delight or add value here.
  3. Security: Airline has notified customers about liquids/gels and other restrictions as well as time allowances to clear security.
  4. Retail options in their selected airports: since many flights no longer provide reading material, beverages and food, conveniently located retail outlets are actually another touch point (if a customer chooses to take that route) -they avoid bad airports.
  5. Boarding lounge (efficient and organized) or Business class lounges.
  6. Boarding process: Friendly announcements about organizing times to board and who may board first, second, third.
  7. In-flight services from seating to food and beverage service, etc.

I could list many other touch points, but I recommend every department or division in a company do this:

  • get a whiteboard and define all the touch points with their senior executive team
  • note possible service breakdowns
  • list reasonable solutions for items that could be proactively corrected, and
  • list solutions for those service breakdowns that are out of your control (what I call “one-offs”) and work with suppliers to see if they can or will provide a fix.

Also look at touch points for “value add” opportunities; they are often very cost-effective. For example, WestJet simply tells jokes at the point of boarding, which often brings a chuckle or a smile (value-add) – and they typically bring along a repeat customer.

The goals in every customer touch point are to:

  1. Exceed expectations
  2. Delight
  3. Minimize disappointment

What used to delight becomes the norm very quickly. So be on the lookout to “Create New Value Add or Wow Moments” and keep your brand promise.

If your company needs a one-day facilitated session on analyzing touch points, send us an email today. info@elaineallison.com

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