Key to Scaling Series: #4 Customer Service

This is the fourth and last post in Calipso Insights’ Key to Scaling Series where we explore the concepts we adhere to when advising our Business Development client’s in specific areas. Today we look at customer service and the types of Communication that help companies retain customers.

So much of Business Development is focused on getting new business that it is easy for companies to overlook the client-facing processes needed to keep existing customers. Clients stay working with companies in large part because they perceive that the company can communicate well. Calipso makes sure that companies maintain the euphoria of being served by informing their clients about three things. These are the company’s brand, the solution the company provides and what the company is doing.

Brand communications is important. Cell phones, shoes and cruise ships have their brands painted and stuck on to them so that users remember who their doing business with. Phone companies have unique default ringtones. Utility companies brand their bills and auto manufacturers build their cars into instantly recognizable shapes so you always remember what you – and everyone else – is driving. In that last example, someone can travel forward in time 20 years and still recognize a Mustang or Volvo. The familiar visuals build familiarity if not loyalty and go a long way to retaining clients in a volatile market. Does your brand have that level of instant recognizability to your customers?

What solution are you providing again? Do your clients still remember why they hired you? Sometimes, everyone needs a little help being reminded why they did something in the past. For you to do this with your customers you need to understand what your value proposition was in the first place. Steve Jobs famously announced new iPhones with phrases like, “isn’t it beautiful?” reminding many of then current customers that their favorite device maker still has what it takes to keep them. He may have done this because he already knew his products value proposition. Knowing your service or products value proposition may help you too – and you could make occasional and subtle reminders to your customers that re-live the initial excitement of when they first engaged you.

So much of Business Development is focused on getting new business that it is easy for companies to overlook the client-facing processes needed to keep existing customers. Clients stay working with companies in large part because they perceive that the company can communicate well.

Last, but not least, every customer wants to know what companies are doing with their money. In many cases, customers can be surprisingly forgiving of inconveniences and mistakes if they are informed of what’s going on. Calipso advocates a customer service doctrine that anticipates areas of increased concern and schedules rehearsed communications with customers right before a concern becomes an issue. Imagine two scenarios where one plane is delayed 45 minutes and another where a plane is delayed by three hours. The first scenario the airline staff is silent, prompting customers to become irritated. As they hunt down staff and pelt them with anxious questions, customers may feel avoided and second-class. By the time the 45 minutes is up, most would feel bad about the airline brand. In the second scenario, the airline staff informs their customers of potential delays, tells them it is due to bad weather, gives them frequent updates in person, gives them food and refreshments and resets their expectations to anticipate a long delay. While still less than ideal, that three-hour delay is far more pleasant than the 45-minute delay in the first scenario. It’s reasonable to assume that the second airline would keep more customers than the first one.

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