Winning and Keeping Clients: The Customer Service Factor
In an era where your bank, your doctor’s office, your kid’s school and more are all likely to greet you with a phone tree when you call, many of us have grown resigned to receiving a lessor standard of customer service, taking a number, waiting in line. If a business cuts too many corners favoring cost reduction instead of customer service, there can be hell to pay in this age of social media. On the other hand, I’ve run into a few managed services companies over the years that have made customer service a priority. It cost more, but if you ask the owners it’s been worth it in terms of revenues and growth.
Most recently I spoke with BEW Global CEO Rob Eggebrecht whose company provides managed security and data loss prevention (DLP) services to a range of companies including Blue Cross Blue Shield, among other big names.
Aside from the very specialized niche that BEW Global has found in managed DLP, there’s another factor which I think probably plays a big part in the company’s 100 percent growth over the last year. It’s a focus on customer care. Each customer of BEW Global is assigned to a group of six BEW employees called a Pod. The customer stays with that Pod forever. That means the members of the Pod get to know the customer’s business, industry and special concerns inside and out. Plus, the customer is always dealing with the same people when he or she calls in for support or services. There’s a relationship there. There are no Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 support people at BEW Global.
A few years back I spoke with another company (Five Nines Technology Group, an MSPmentor 100 company) whose owner and CEO Nick Bock had decided to forego the standard 3-tier help desk model in favor of assigning each customer to his or her own senior-level technician. That technician knew the customer’s business, the vertical applications for the customer’s industry and had a relationship with the customer. Because every time the customer called in, they spoke with that same senior technician.
Yes, the approach was more costly. But it resulted in a growth rate of 33 percent during the height of the recession in 2009 as customers who were disappointed with the service they received elsewhere signed up with this high-touch competitor.
What about your company? Are you racing to the bottom with cost cutting and pricing? Or are you looking to differentiate with a higher level of customer service? Where do you fall on the customer care vs. cost cutting continuum?