Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Data Science | Entrepreneurship | ..and sometimes Photography

Category: Customer Service (page 3 of 6)

Does Outsourcing affect Customer Loyalty?

A recent study by researchers at University of Michigan and University of Richmond shows that outsourcing/offshoring certain aspects of your business can affect customer loyalty. The research, titled “Does Offshoring Impact Customer Satisfaction?” and posted on the Social Science Research Network, points to collected data that shows:

offshoring of front office processes that interface directly with the customer has a negative association with customer satisfaction, customer loyalty, perceived quality and customer expectations. On the other hand, we find that offshoring back office processes that do not interface directly with the customer has a positive association with customer loyalty.

Well…I could have told you that myself…and many of you probably could have guessed this was the case.  It is good to have some academic research to back up my ‘gut’ feeling.  I’m still reading through the article, but so far the research methods seem fair and sound.

Hat tip to ArsTechnica for the link to this research.

BTW – You can download the paper in its entirety at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1010457

Blu Domain: Poor Service Defined

It’s been a while since I’ve railed against bad customer service….namely because I’ve not been too upset with the various services that I’ve received.

But…that streak has been broken.

A new definition for poor customer service has been set by a company called “Blu Domain“, specifically by “Aundrea”. My wife and I purchased a website from them on April 25, 2008. They told us that the site would be ‘delivered’ within 24 to 48 hours. It is now May 14th and we have yet to see a working website.

Blu Domain purportedly provides turn-key websites and back-end management solutions for photographers. The web designs and functionality seem to be top-notch…but their client service is horrible (try googling ‘Blu Domain Service‘ or “BluDomain Service“).

It started out nicely with an email from “Aundrea” stating that she’d have the website delivered within 24 to 48 hours and that she never misses a deadline. She asked for information about our hosting platform and we responded within 30 minutes with all the required information. Funny note: in her email to us, it states “if you don’t hear from me within 3 days, contact me because i probably didn’t receive your email”. Now…why would anyone say that? Why is it on the shoulders of the customer to contact the service provider to check to see if they received our email??

3 days went by with no response so we contacted them again and Aundrea told us that she didn’t receive an email from us…we resent it. Another 3 days passed with nothing.

We emailed them again (3 times actually) prior to getting a response. The response asked for more information. We provided that information….and waited another 3 days with no response.

Finally, we threatened to call our credit card company for a refund if they didn’t respond. Funny how threatening them actually worked….but their response was to blame us for not giving them information…even though the information that they requested was contained the email that she replied to.

We’ve given them until the end of today to get the website up and running or the credit card company will take over this negotiation and we’ll go somewhere else.

I should have known better to use a company that doesn’t provide any means of communicating directly with them. They have no phone number, no email address nor any other contact method on their website (other than the ‘Contact us’ form).  Another learning opportunity I guess.

Seems as if we aren’t the only ones having this problem. Check out the following:

Five Customer Retention Tips That Really Work (Guest Post)

This is a guest post written by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on the topic of career exploration. See her byline at the end of this article for Heather’s contact information.

Although employee engagement might be the buzzword around the office, customer retention is obviously important as well. Managers can become so focused on marketing that they lose sight of the customers they already have. It is cheaper to retain your current customers than to seek new ones, so heed the following tips in order to boost your bottom line.

  1. Value Your Customers – Customer service must be sincere in order to be effective. Make your customers the number one priority and ensure that every employee is trained to do the same. By consistently treating all customers with respect and honesty, they will see you as a dependable company to do business with.
  2. Offer Specials – Customers like to feel as if they are being awarded perks for choosing your company. Not only should there be company-wide specials throughout the year, you should give exclusive discounts to your most valued repeat customers.
  3. Address Problems Immediately – Never let a customer complaint go stale. If someone contacts your business with a complaint or a cancellation, ensure that they receive top priority. Troubleshoot this issue with the customer and try to reach a satisfactory agreement for everyone.
  4. Empathize – You must always display empathy with your customers, whether indirectly or directly. If you are following rule number one, “value your customers,” then this empathy will be sincere and most effective. You truly do want the best for your customers, as that is largely what is best for the company.
  5. Socialize – Your business should actively socialize with their customers and gather feedback. This can easily be done through a company Web site and corporate blog. Make the customers feel as if you are involving them with every step and always value their input.

Customer turnover could be the largest financial drain on your company. In fact, it is estimated that acquiring new customers is five times more expensive than keeping the ones you already have. By following the five tips above, you should increase your chances of making every customer a long-term customer.

By-line:

This article is contributed by Heather Johnson, who regularly writes on the topic of career exploration. She invites your questions and writing job opportunities at her personal email address: [email protected].

Saturn Aura Final Update

For those that haven’t read about it, I had some problems with my brand new Saturn Aura last year. I had the car for 4 months and only got to drive it ~ 3months because it was in the shop so much. Read more about the saga here.

The last update I provided (here), I was in the process of picking out a car. Well…I picked out a Saab 9-3 2.0T and drove it off the lot Jan 31 (I’m really late in providing this update). Surprisingly, the process was very smooth once GM decided to replace the car. I found the car I wanted, gave GM the VIN and signed some paperwork and I was good to go.

I can’t say enough good things about Sewell Saab of Plano and the person I worked with there (Bryan Barton). If you are in the Dallas area, I’d highly recommend looking into the Sewell family for your automobile needs….if you aren’t in Dallas, I’d still recommend giving them a call…best car dealership I’ve ever dealt with.

Here’s a pic of the new car:

From 2008-New Saab

GM is replacing my car

I have an official offer to replace my Saturn Aura..

I can select from any GM product and have settled on a Saab 93.   We’ll see how the process goes- but so far it has been very easy.   It has looked like this:

  1. Pick out car with same/close MSRP
  2. Find dealership willing to get involved
  3. Find exact car you want & get VIN
  4. Provide GM with the VIN #
  5. Paperwork is completed.
  6. Surrender old car, sign for new car.

I’ve been working with Sewell Saab in Plano and have to say…absolutely first rate organization so far.  I think I may stick with the Sewell family for all my vehicle shopping in the future.

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Saturn Aura – Final Update??

Well…it looks like Saturn might be doing the right thing now.

Just received a call from Saturn’s National Assistance Center and was told that they will replace my car and that the paperwork is getting prepared now.

I hope to have a reliable car soon!

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