About 6 years ago I was approached by one of my field managers about a new “callback” program he wanted to launch in one of our cable television service areas. He wanted to have “a real person” call a customer within 7 days of a new service installation, and have a conversation about that installation. He emphasized “conversation”, because he wanted this to be more than just a survey call where a bunch of “check the box” questions are asked.
I was intrigued, so I authorized a test of these callbacks in his market. We were able to actually contact nearly 60% of the customers who had a new service installation, and the response we got was encouraging- they appreciated the call, and better yet, by and large they were willing to engage with us.
This appreciation translated to actual company benefits – we discovered that the customers who engaged in a callback conversation were 25% less likely to “churn”, or disconnect their service. In the cable television business, where churn is a major concern, that was huge.
Needless to say we expanded the callbacks to the entire company. And we got the same results. But we realized that we could leverage these conversations, and supercharge our business, in several other powerful ways:
- To proactively deal with, and fix problems before they festered too long – When issues were raised on the calls we addressed them as quickly as possible, oftentimes transferring the call to a service agent right then and there. This prevented a lot of headaches down the road.
- To refine processes and procedures and save significant money – In the cable TV business, a “truck roll” to a customer’s house is a high-cost item, and because of the information we gathered on these calls, we changed several of our install and service truck roll protocols, and then monitored these changes through subsequent callbacks. By doing this we were able to significantly reduce truck rolls (and save a bunch of money).
- To measure, track, and manage the best measurement of customer satisfaction, the Net Promoter Score – About 2 years into the callback program I “discovered” the Net Promoter Score (NPS) , based on a book called “The Ultimate Question” by Fred Reichheld. I wrote a post about it back then, and said I was going to start gathering these scores, based on the question “Would you recommend this business to a friend or relative?”. Based on the results we had, I can tell you I am now a big believer in the NPS. It gave us a great quantifiable benchmark we could manage to , AND, I can tell you it does have a strong correlation to the bottom line results (Reichheld’s big claim in his book). It also identifies your customer “evangelists”, which is another leveraging opportunity worthy of a separate post.
All this from a single phone call? One conversation with a customer?
We talk so often in the Social Media and Business worlds about the power of conversation – the ability to go “one-on-one” and build meaningful relationships. Taking the time (and spending the money) to extend these conversations to our customers, to show that we really do care about what they think, to verbally express our desire for them to be satisfied and happy with their product and service, to positively identify those who absolutely love you, and to listen, is a tangible and meaningful manifestation of that power, and well worth it.
For any business, no matter the size, or the number of customers.
Just reach out and talk to them. That 5 or 6 minute conversation will make a huge difference. And don’t forget to take notes.