Can’t Get No Satisfaction – A Customer’s View of Service

We’re starting a new series on customer service focusing on the customer’s viewpoint related to satisfaction vs. building a relationship and/or earning your customer’s loyalty.

To begin -

What does the country doctor of yesteryear, the street vendor in India and the successful business (despite current economic conditions) around the corner all have in common?  It is their commitment to knowing their customers well, developing a relationship with them and aligning their business practices to satisfy the needs of their customers.

In today’s competitive world, effective customer satisfaction is so much more than simply solving problems; it is also about knowing your customers well and acting on that knowledge.

Customer service can be broken into three separate components:

  1. The Process of Customer Service: Various interaction opportunities that you have with your residents.
  2. The Attitude of Customer Satisfaction: The resident is satisfied in the moment with the matter at hand.
  3. The Commitment of Customer Loyalty: The resident remains even when there are less expensive or more worthy options available and refers future residents to your company or community.

When creating a strategy for your community, practice, or company, all three aspects must be incorporated.  A good place to start refining your customer service strategy is evaluating your current communication methods with residents, whether it be conversations, transactions, correspondence, on-line  surveys, etc.

Take a hard look at current operations and evaluate performance from the customer’s viewpoint. Are you asking about the things that really matter to them?

Are your services and interactions customer-centric?

For multifamily professionals, your team thinks of your product in terms of “units”, your resident thinks of the product as, “home”. You think of moving people in and out of the community as “business as usual”, your resident often perceives moving as one of the top 5 stresses in life.

You think of the community as a place to escape from at the end of a busy day, your residents want to feel like that is the place to escape to after their busy day.

For our friends in the medical industry, most of your patients will try to avoid coming to see you (not typically a personal – but fear or convenience based thing), but your staff sees most of the procedures they will do that day (cleaning teeth, drawing blood, etc.) as routine. The opportunity to bridge the patient from “fear” to at the very least “trust” is lost.

For those in non-profit, many of your donors would truly appreciate knowing how their hard-earned dollars/ donations or volunteered time, specifically “made a difference.” Your staff might (not always) thank the individual or firm for their donation or volunteer work, and when they do – it is often in a “general, perfunctory manner”.  The result? Enthusiam deflates.

Our next post will explore the fact that “retention” of a customer is not necessarily equated with either satisfaction or their loyalty.