Sunday, August 24, 2008

Client Service Excellence and Leading for Loyalty

Just before leaving for a recent trip, I received the September 2008 issue of the Harvard Business Review. As usual, I read it cover to cover and enjoyed the insights, ideas, and wisdom contained within. But before I talk about September, I'd like to recall an HBR OnPoint piece written by Frederick F. Reichheld in 2001 that I think sets a great tone for the week: Lead for Loyalty.

If you aspire to becoming a world class client service organization, leading for loyalty is a great place to start. Here are Reichheld's six loyalty principles:
  • Preach what you practice. It's not enough to have the right values. You must clarify them and hammer them home to customers, employees, suppliers and shareholders through your words and deeds.
  • Play to win-win. If you are to build loyalty, not only must your competitors lose. Your partners must win.
  • Be picky. At high loyalty companies, membership is a privilege. Clarify the difference between loyalty and tenure.
  • Keep it simple. In a complex world, people need small teams to simplify responsibility and accountability. They also need simple rules to guide their decision making.
  • Reward the right results. Save your best deals for your most loyal customers, and save your best opportunities for your most loyal employees and partners.
  • Listen hard, talk straight. Visit call centers, internet chat rooms, and anywhere else customers offer feedback. Make it safe for employees to offer candid criticism. Use the Loyalty Acid Test survey. Explain what you've learned and communicate the actions that will be taken.
You can see where if this article were written in 2008, Reichheld would have likely included social media among the ways we need to listen hard and talk straight. I look forward to this week's conversation!

1 comment:

  1. This is good information. I would definitely agree that all the positives here roll down the chain and out to the client.

    I'd also add to this "Have Courage" - organizations need to have the backbone first to embark on, what is for many, huge cultural changes such as these.



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