Monday, June 18, 2007

Daily Client Phone Calls

In another post ( see ), I mentioned that our Customer Service Manager has three primary priorities:

  1. Make all scheduled client phone calls.
  2. Get out Quotes.
  3. Have roadmap meetings with clients.

That discussion was about getting out quotes. In fact, we created this position to deal with the backlog of quotes that needed to go out.

So why are phone calls the first priority for him? The answer is: the power of client management.

One day, one or our largest clients was lamenting that things just don't "seem" to be going as well as they could. We reviewed the service log. No high or medium priority items. All low priority items were "in progress." He agreed that everything is getting the attention it needed.

So what's the problem?

Well, the last support guy that the office manager liked called her every day.

Nerdy devil on left shoulder says: "Who gives a rat's rearend? I'm not going to call 100 people every day. I'm in the technology business, not the hand-holding and client-petting business."

Non-nerdy angel on right shoulder says: "She doesn't really need a call every day. She just needs someone to call her enough so that she's happy with the relationship."

So we made a deal. Charlie (the new customer service manager) will call her and go through every outstanding service request. Then he'll call the next day and do it again, but suggest going to twice a week. Then, when she's ready, go to once a week. As the two have their weekly conversations about every item on the list, the calls will get shorter and the feeling of love and understanding will go way up.

This worked like a charm. In fact, it worked so well that Charlie is now doing this with several clients. Not everyone. But the biggest clients, certainly. And when someone's going through a network migration they get this treatment. Or when there's a major project or two going on.

And what makes this so successful?

People love attention.

Instead of calling and saying "Let's talk about the latest offer or service from KPE," Charlie calls and says "Let's talk about you, what you need, and what you want."

For the most part these phone calls are 30-60 minutes per week. Not a bad investment considering the relationship management that goes on.

One of my maxims is that you're going to see positive results in whatever you put your attention on. I mention that a few times in Relax Focus Succeed.

Whatever you put your attention on, that's what you're going to get better at. So if you put your attention on your clients, you'll have better client relationships. And, in fact, you'll have better clients. They'll know your business better, like you better, have a personal relationship with someone, and have an ongoing dialogue. So resolving problems will be easier down the road. And when you say it's time to replace an old computer, they'll trust you more.

When we're really small (1-2 people) this process seems to take care of itself. Then, with a little growth, it becomes harder to find the time to keep this communication in place. At some point, you need to re-envigorate the relationship side of the client relationship.

For us, that's a Customer Service Manager making daily phone calls.

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