Benchmarking Customer Expectations – What’s the Right Yardstick?

measuring customer expectationsSo you benchmark your company against others in your industry. Maybe you look at maximizing revenue per full-time employee, increasing first call resolution in your contact center or IT expense as a percent of revenue. How do you compare to your competitors? Is that the right comparison?

Your customers, whether they are consumers or businesses, rarely measure you against others in your industry. Think about it. When you pay your doctor bill, do you compare that process against other doctors, or do you think about being able to pay your credit card bill online? Health care organizations get compared by consumers to their auto insurance company, their bank and their cell phone companies. A customer’s last memory of service is rarely another organization of your type.

For business to business companies, the comparisons may be different but they still happen.

* Can your client look at its transactions online? Their bank lets them view transactions, transfer funds and make payments.

* Can they easily get a human on the phone if they need one? Their accounting firm probably makes it easy, and can take a message or route the call to the desired accountant’s back up.

* Can they schedule an appointment online? My reservations for my last business lunch were done via opentable.com which promptly sent a notification to the person joining me for lunch. Easy.

Think about giving your client the ability to interact with you the way they are most comfortable, whether it is by live person, by phone or on the web. Make it easy for your customers, according their definition of easy. They will order more, and will continue to do business with you as they learn to rely on you as a data source.

Understanding and, if appropriate, matching your competitors’ offerings is important as well. However, it’s most important in vendor selection. Once selected, it is human nature to no longer compare to vendors one hasn’t spoken with in awhile, but instead compare to those currently in use. If your customer is comparing you to other vendors of your type, they may be unhappy with your service and are starting to shop.

If you manage an internal support organization like Information Technology, Human Resources or Finance, re-visit your internal benchmarks. What could you strive for even if it’s not industry-standard? Allow employees to update their information online. Make budgeting easier. Show open IT tickets and their statuses online. Then think big. Leverage technology to automate processes so you can radically improve your revenue/FTE ratio.

Compare yourself to your competitors, but ask your customers who, of any vendor they have, has the best service and why. You may be surprised.

Laura Pettit RusickAbout The Guest Author:   Laura Pettit Rusick assists CEOs at small and mid-sized organizations with strategic technology planning and management. Her company OPT Solutions helps them grow, reduce costs and increase productivity by optimizing business processes and technology. For those interested in benefiting from business process efficiency projects, sign up to receive the PDF “Ten Critical Success Factors for Optimizing Business Processes“.

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1 Comment Benchmarking Customer Expectations – What’s the Right Yardstick?

  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Laura Pettit Rusick: Have you read Barry Moltz’s book, B-A-M!: Delivering Customer Service in a Self-Service World? Today I listened to Wayne Hurlbert’s interview with Barry Moltz.

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