The other day I was in a local restaurant and saw something that intrigued me. Right next to the specials, handwritten on a chalkboard, was a sign stating the number of customer complaints the restaurant has had this quarter. The number was a very reasonable “2," but there was a much larger point being made.
In today’s world of Twitter and Facebook, where customers hold more power than ever before, this local establishment has found a way to use a very primitive tool, the chalkboard, to show customers they not only claim to provide superior service, but that they can also prove it. Keeping track of this and making the number public knowledge also forces employees to be accountable to the customer. This is simply because nobody wants to be responsible for increasing the number for every patron to see.
This experience got me thinking about the B2B world in which I operate. My company, TermSync, provides cloud-based solutions to help companies better manage the post-sale experiences with their business customers. Basically, we make it easier for customers to pay outstanding invoices, ask any questions they might have, file disputes if necessary, etc. Just like the local restaurant was tracking (and sharing with customers) a simple metric to achieve better results, every B2B company, large or small, can and should track customer response time in order to improve their business and show customers they care about more than just their wallet. Not only will this help managers stay on top of their staff to ensure customers are being responded to in a timely fashion, but it will also help improve each customer’s overall experience.
Here are four benefits of tracking customer response time:
Improved Staff Accountability
Set a response time goal and hold your team accountable to it. It’s easy to instruct the team to follow up in XX amount of time, but if you’re not tracking it, inevitably, things will start to fall through the cracks. Employees quickly realize what management tracks and what stands as a priority in their eyes; so if response time isn’t something you track, employees most likely know this, and even if unintentionally, push responding to customer complaints to the bottom of their to-do list. However, if you start tracking response time and make it easy for managers to monitor, employees are sure to make it a top priority.
Show Customers You Care
Once you’ve started tracking customer response time, share those numbers with your customers. The fact that you stress quick response time and aren’t afraid to share those numbers (good or bad), shows you really care about your customers. By being transparent and putting yourself out there allows you to not just say you care about your customers, but allows you to actually prove you care — not something many businesses can do. As a side benefit, sharing it with customers also improves staff accountability. Putting metrics like that on display essentially guarantees everyone involved will make them a priority.
Uncover Issues You May Not Have Known Existed
Once employees are aware you’re tracking customer response time, the speed at which they respond to customer questions and complaints is bound to improve. And once this happens and becomes known by customers, they’ll start reaching out more often with other questions and concerns simply because they know someone’s on the other side ready to respond. While it might mean initially more time spent on your end helping customers, it also means finding out about more issues you never even knew existed. Customers are more likely to reach out when you make it a priority. You can only fix the issues you know about, so any business executive should welcome all feedback from customers and remedy those issues that can be fixed. You will also discover the root cause of issues, fix them and then prevent future occurrences, ultimately reducing the overall number of customer questions and complaints.
Separate Yourself From the Competition
It’s a competitive world and you need to find as many ways as possible to separate yourself from the competition. Having fast a response time and even sharing the fact that you track it is an easy way to do just that. In fact, according to a recent study we did, companies who started tracking customer response time improved their response time by 37 percent. By doing one small thing, such as tracking customer response time, you can have a major impact on a key aspect of your customer service quality and overall customer satisfaction.
In the end, tracking response time ensures your team is making customer service a priority throughout the entire sales process, not just at the start when they’re trying to win the business. The post-sale process is the last interaction your team has with its customers (until the next sale, hopefully), so make it a positive one and leave them looking forward to doing business with you again in the near future.
About The Author
Mark Wilson is the Chief Executive Officer of TermSync, a cloud-based customer portal. Over Mark’s career, he has always focused on process improvements as a way of not only reducing costs but also increasing efficiency and improving internal and external relationships. After seeing first-hand, the amount of corporate waste that can be attributed to outdated post-sale processes, Mark realized a significant need in the market was not being addressed. Building on this knowledge and his prior successful startup experience, he formed TermSync.