Good Customer Service = Customer Retention = Great Profits!

This article is a prime example of what we can gain from utilizing the “Three L’s” (Look-Listen-Learn) if we simply maintain an open mind and an intense focus on facts.

J.D. Power and Associates recently released the 2006 “Top Loyalty Ratings” for the Automotive Industry. (NOTE: Check our Resources page for a detailed description of this respected reference.)

This list reflects the top ten automotive manufacturers that are doing the best job at retaining customers. Please note that of the top ten car models listed, only three are American made, and those three are ranked 6th, 7th, and 9th!

Top Loyalty Ratings
1. Toyota – 63.9%
2. Lexus – 63.2%
3. Honda – 60.3%
4. BMW – 56.5%
5. Scion – 56.3%
6. Cadillac – 55.5%
7. Chevrolet – 55.3%
8. Mercedes-Benz – 53.6%
9. Ford – 53.3%
10. Hyundai – 51.6%

This is so important in today’s very competitive global marketplace. It’s been proven time and time again that customer satisfaction has a great deal to do with customer retention. It’s long been said that it’s much easier and less expensive to maintain your current customers than it is to attract new customers from your competition. No wonder, then, that Toyota, which makes more profit than any other automaker, tops J.D. Power’s Customer Retention Study.

Although this study reflects conditions in the auto industry, you’ll find very similar results in most other industries as well. A strong customer service focus leads to much greater customer retention which, in turn, reduces cost and increases profits. Bottom line—SUCCE$$. Again the age-old, time-tested refrain of “This isn’t rocket science!” comes to mind.

Here’s the real “brain-buster.” If the above formula is continually proven to be true across industries, why are customer service levels at an all-time low? Why is there less customer service training taking place at a time when it is needed more than ever before? Why is this type of training one of the first things to be cut from a shrinking budget when it should be the last? Answer these questions, share your answers with me, and we’ll co-author a best-seller that will lead us both to a national book tour and an early retirement!

Ramblings of a mad man—yes and no. “Mad” as in insane—I think not. In fact, anything but! “Mad” as in “fed up,” “angry,” “enraged,” “furious,” “irate,” “incensed,” and “not going to take it any more”?—yeah, pretty much—along with millions of other customers who have been ignored, abused, disrespected, insulted, and led to believe we are of inconsequential value and really contribute little or nothing to the success and/or longevity of the business.

Think back over the past month as we approached the busy holiday season. Think about your visit to a retail store, restaurant, theater, hotel, airport, hospital, insurance office or anywhere you may have spent your hard-earned income. Reviewing all of your experiences, what percent would you consider “excellent” service? What percent would you consider to be “average” and what percent would you deem “unacceptable”?  It’s a pretty safe bet that your experience reflects that of the rest of the nation.

While it’s pretty effortless to take shots as those we just reviewed, I would challenge you to openly and honestly “re-frame” your thinking and answer the following question. If I were to call or visit your place of business and be asked to rate the level of service I received, what kind of results do you think would surface?

Try it—and be brutally honest. Then ask your peers to do the same. Then your leadership team. Then a few of your customers. The results should instinctively lead to some immediate discussion producing a game plan for doing more of what you’re doing well,  eliminating what you’re doing wrong, and/or adding what’s needed. Do nothing, and you’ll discover how simplistic it is to accurately predict the future of your organization.

Remember the formula?

Apply the “Three L’s” (Look-Listen-Learn). Review it, discuss it, benchmark those who do and do not model it, apply it, repeat it, celebrate it, live it, and reap the benefits!  Ignore it … and pay the price!

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

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