What we learned about Customer Service from 1-800-Flowers Very Bad Valentine’s Day.

Poor Janet from 1-800-Flowers’s Twitter feed had a very long Valentine’s Day Evening.

Is this what your Members, Donors or Customers think of you?

....good thing our clients' constituents don't!

Providing Excellent Customer Service: You never know 'their story'

I know this video has been circulated around for a few weeks and months. But I thought it gave a great visual to not only having patience--but also why we as services providers, Associations and Fundraisers do what we do.

Jumping on the Customer, Member or Donor Relationship Bandwagon

They say 'Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery.' While  validating, it still stings when its your competition.

 

Serving a niche market (Database Management, Response  Processing and Fulfillment Services for Associations, Fundraisers and Publishers) our firm was built on  setting ourselves apart in every way from our competition. Meaning that, most of our competitors at the time neglected building and fostering a strong and real relationship with the people that keep our clients, their work and firms like us afloat...their customers, members and donors.

Seems logical, right?

But for decades, the industry was dominated (and still somewhat is) by firms that, to reduce costs, hire minimum wage staffers who fly through responses and calls focusing on quotas and speed, rather than fostering true relationships. There is little education provided to these staff on the industry, its values or what the client expects past a dumbed down Business Rule Document. The only individuals that 'truly' know the client are the ones that really aren't doing the work--a Sales or Account Rep.

But, you can't blame them really. They responded to what the client wanted and what they were willing to pay for. 

It truly was Quantity over Quality.

On the contrary, we were founded to change all of that--to turn the industry on its heals. To show organizations that the choices were not A or B:  Sacrifice my relationships in order to free up internal resources or Sacrifice my internal resources in order to foster strong relationships. There was another cost effective option!

{In fact, a funny side story--when our Founder left her job at a competitor to begin DirectAnswer with this philosophy in mind: she was told "You'll be back in a week." Last year that competitor closed its doors}

And boy it took off like gang-busters! For two decades, DA attributed all of our growth from referrals alone. No marketing, No PR, No Social Media. Good Old Fashioned Word of Mouth!

With more technology, came more ways we could add those efficiencies of scale but still have the same high-touch relationship building techniques our clients had come to depend on. While our competitors still pushed: Faster! Cheaper! Faster! Cheaper! We sought to educate and prove that it wasn't normal for organizations to hire a staff to clean up the mistakes of your firm in order to preserve constituent relationships--large attrition wasn't normal!

Then, a few months ago, things started to change and it was quite funny to watch.

Automation in our industry and the service industry was so out of control that the lack of true customer service was becoming commonplace, and the general public was getting tired of it.

Hence we saw the Renaissance of Customer Service, prompting AMEX to do a study of consumer buying preferences which noted that over 92% of consumers would pay more and give more if they were treated better.

A fact not revolutionary around the halls of DA or our clients. who valued this decades before their competitors and have been reaping the rewards ever since.

While other organizations and firms are struggling to rebrand and refocus their efforts on "Serving the Customer, Donor or Member in a Cost Effective Way." Our clients can continue to focus on core strategic growth.

As one of those 'industry dominators' I mentioned earlier summed it up on their website today: "The Donor Relationship  Center is a new addition to {our firm}"   ...Exactly.