I’m always interested when I see the serious business press – like the Financial Times – focusing on customer service.
This article is about investment advice, but some of the key messages here apply to any business and any form of customer service. First, look at this quote: “After a year or so they discovered, what several thousand advisers had discovered earlier, and that was there is no such thing as excellence on the cheap.”
Every business wants to reduce costs as far as possible, but in customer service there is a level beneath which you cannot go because then customers start deserting you. This is a very dangerous strategy and very few companies can get away with it – in most cases only those with unbelievable value or a monopoly can try it.
The article then goes on to describe how most customers can work within a framework of basic investment advice, but some have complex portfolios and need personal help. The Pareto principle, that 80% of the work is created by 20% of the customers comes to mind.
These are two important lessons for any customer service manager. You need to streamline the service for the majority of cases, but there must be a deeper level of service to satisfy the more complex consumer. Plus, if you reduce cost to the bone, it will probably be these more complex consumers who suffer. Yet, the smaller number of customers, with the more complex problems may well be the ones who spend the most.
At the moment, most people in Europe are putting cash underneath the mattress rather than calling investment advisors, but this short article on how they work captures a couple of really key nuggets that are worth recalling when planning your own customer service strategy.