For two months, an Account Executive at our financial industry client had been trying unsuccessfully to get in front of one of his key customer contacts. His customer believed they were receiving less than optimal service, response time was high, and personal attention to requests was low; in short, the relationship at this point was strained.
Once the Account Executive managed to secure a meeting, the customer contacts our client met with were on guard and unwilling to invest much time in the conversation; they agreed to one hour, maximum. At the outset, these contacts were entering the meeting with great reluctance, a significantly negative view of our client, and, very likely, plans to move on to a different provider.
Our client had recently contracted E.G. Insight for development, implementation, and analysis of the Customer Review process (CRp). An interview guide tailored to meet our client’s specific business needs was created, targeting the topics of most relevance to both our client and their customers. Issues such as service, delivery, quality, and value were discussed and numeric ratings captured. The process had been rolled out to a variety of our client’s customers.
The client team administering the CRp recognized that inviting this particular dissatisfied customer contact to participate could be a way to schedule what was turning out to be a very elusive meeting. The formal review process—rather than a casual business meeting—would demonstrate to the customer the seriousness of our client’s intent in meeting and listening. The structure of the CRp, and its focus on openly and non-defensively gathering feedback, helped the customer feel comfortable agreeing to meet. Our client was able to get back in the door.
Although the customer’s initial attitude was somewhat resistant, as the CRp began they started to open up. To the interviewers’ delight, the customer—previously not wanting to give more than an hour of their time—agreed to keep the productive conversation going. The interview lasted two hours. By the end of the interview, the customer contacts were described as “leaning on the table, thoroughly engaged and smiling.” They praised our client for their sincere engagement and willingness to partner.
With the eager participation of all, several effective action items and improvement suggestions were developed. Most of these plans were able to be implemented immediately, allowing quick resolution for many of the customer’s prior concerns. The conversation also served as a platform for additional constructive dialogue going forward.
In the words of the Account Executive involved with this interview, “Bless our having this process and being able to use it to get in the door.” She went on to praise the conversational format of the CRp and the effectiveness of using it with at-risk customers.