Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What happened to client service?

As I am working on coordinating our 20th anniversary party, I have been contacting different vendors to help with the festivities. Most were very responsive and got back to me quickly when I met them at a networking event or sent a message. Unfortunately, one company was not as responsive and left me feeling they were not eager for my business. It is not like I didn’t try. Two phone messages and a LinkedIn request resulted in a return call two and half weeks later. I had to tell them it was too late and I had already found another resource.
It got me thinking about how important it is to be responsive to clients and be customer centric. At Confluent, we do not let prospect or client questions and quotation requests go longer than 24 hours without someone getting back to follow up or confirm. We personally answer the phone and return email questions the same or next day. I know our clients appreciate our responsiveness based on our client surveys. Our responsiveness has also resulted in new business opportunities awarded over our competition. It shouldn’t take 3 to 4 days to quote let alone 2 weeks to deliver a small translation job that should only take 3 to 4 days.
I could not delay responding nor could my employees. Maybe that is the difference. My employees care about Confluent’s image, our clients’ projects, and all of our success as much as I do. To me it is rude not to respond, no matter how busy you are. It only takes a minute to let someone know you have received something and estimate how long it will take to provide some sort of response.
Maybe our competitors’ account and project managers don’t care enough because it is not something emphasized from top down. Maybe they are over worked, understaffed and really can’t get to requests in a timely fashion. Maybe they are too “green” in the industry. Translation agency employee turnover is known to be fast and furious at quite a few top agencies. Not to mention their translator turnover, although they do have a unique way around that going to other agencies to get their client’s work done.
Whatever the reasons are for lack of responsiveness, it always comes back to bite you. Even if you have to deliver bad news, it is better to do it as soon as possible while being upfront and honest.
Personally, it is frustrating to have to follow up on an email, quotation, or job. That equates to triple the work. I don’t know about you, but my time is valuable and I don’t like to be kept waiting, worrying or have to keep track of communications.
Maybe the fact that I consider everyone’s time as being valuable, important and worthy has helped Confluent grow continually with referral upon referral. And, maybe because my account and project managers know that is how I feel, they respond in turn.