Friday, August 27, 2010

So There IS Profit in a Customer-Centered Business Model!

So There IS Profit in a Customer-Centered Business Model!

In a post a couple weeks ago titled "Done Is Better Than Perfect," I referenced a chart that included PERFECTION along the Y axis and EFFICIENCY along the X axis. At the halfway point between the two lies EXCELLENCE. The examples I cited were MicroSoft, who's known for shipping products without waiting to perfect them, and BP, who felled an entire segment of the ocean due to its bottom-line concern for cost-cutting efficiency.

Another place you often see larger companies trying to contain costs is on the telephone. Call center employees are monitored to ensure that their calls are quick, efficient, to the point. The result is that things get missed, customers often go away dissatisfied, and the bottom line is the bottom line.

The August 16 issue of Fortune magazine reports how one household name company is changing the face of call-center customer service:
[L]ast year when [American Express] gave its global customer service division a makeover, it decided to focus on making life better for its 26,000 call-center employees. The theory: Happier employees mean happier customers. "We've learned the impotance of the attitude of the employee," says Jim Bush, EVP of world service.
AmEx started by asking customer service employees what they wanted to see - and then delivered better pay, flexible schedules, and more career development. It also switched from a directive to keep calls short and transaction-oriented to engaging customers in longer conversations. Collectively, the moves have boosted service margins by 10 percent.
That's no small potatoes. And it's amazing how investing a little more time (and, subsequently, a little more money) on the front end is paying dividends on the bottom line.

Is there a place in your business where you are cutting corners that - if you examined it - might actually increase your revenues if you were to stop the penny-pinching and begin viewing the costs as an investment? From in-house Web design to printing to accounting, we all want to stretch our dollars as far as they'll take us. This is not to suggest blowing your budget or going on a wild spending spree. But I'm thinking your overall strategy might simply warrant another look.

This is Day 38 in the 60-Day Content Challenge. I've been posting every day since I accepted the challenge on July 21st. See you tomorrow for the next post! Laura

Sign up today for Laura's next workshop, Want to Charge More? Start Writing! Or e-mail your writing, marketing, or design questions to Laura.

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