“In God we trust. All others bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming
Since we launched Vantiv’s PaymentsEdge Advisory Services in late 2016, I’ve been imploring resellers and ISVs to utilize our offerings such as the annual Customer Health Checkup merchant survey and staff professional development sessions on customer service, communication, and critical thinking. I’ve said to several owners, “I know you’re busy, but investing in these activities will strengthen your company, improve your relationships with your merchants, and save you time down the road.”
Now I have empirical data to back up my words.
In September 2016, we conducted the first-ever Customer Health Checkup merchant survey for a Vantiv reseller, and their customer feedback was less than optimal. Merchants made comments such as “your customer service needs better etiquette” and “there is zero follow-up to ensure everything is working properly.” So the owner and I collaborated on a plan that included reviewing survey feedback with the team followed by videoconference workshops on perseverance, customer service, and communication best practices. Our group discussions revealed internal systems that needed to be created or revised, communication gaps between staff and customers, a hesitation to have candid conversations, and a lack of understanding of crucial best practices.
The group took ownership of these issues and updated me on their progress during subsequent meetings. They all felt the situation was improving, but to me the real measure was going to be this reseller’s 2017 Customer Health Checkup results. The data we just received shows significant improvement:
- The survey asked, “Does our customer service representative typically solve your problem or answer your question quickly, slowly, or neither?” In 2016, only 60% of responding merchants said “quickly.” In 2017, that jumped to 79% – a 19% improvement.
- When asked, “How many of your questions/problems did the customer service representative at our company resolve?”, merchants chose from five categories: all, most, half, some, or none. In 2016 only 17% selected “all.” In 2017, “all” received 37% – a 20% improvement.
- Merchant retention improved as well. When asked, “How likely are you to purchase any of our solutions/products again?”, in 2016 only 33% of respondents said they were likely to do that. In 2017, 47% of merchants said they were likely to buy again, a 14% increase. That still behind the industry average of 54.6% of merchants likely to purchase from the partner again, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
- Overall customer satisfaction improved significantly. When asked, “Are you satisfied with the customer service you receive, dissatisfied with our customer service, or neither satisfied nor dissatisfied?”, only 58% said they were satisfied in 2016. For 2017, that figured improved to an impressive 82% – a 24% jump.
Do you believe me yet that PaymentsEdge Advisory Services can help your organization? You say want more data? That’s fine – W. Edwards Deming would be proud of your quest for complete information.
I just finished up a Customer Service Workshop with another Vantiv partner, and here’s a sampling of what we covered:
Communicating with both Empathy and Aggressiveness: We discussed that empathy and aggressiveness should be integrated into every customer interaction. The more aggressive you are, the more empathetic you need to be. This makes customers feel you are helping them with their issues, not attacking them. Workshop participants created sample conversations that demonstrated their level of understanding of this concept. They learned the customer isn’t always right; if this communication technique is executed effectively, you can steer the customer towards the most appropriate solution without causing resentment.
Embrace Skepticism: To best help your customers, you need to operate based on facts and truth. Skepticism will enable you to accurately understand the situation so you can apply the appropriate solution. We talked with reseller staff members about asking open-ended questions in a friendly, non-threatening manner so decisions aren’t made based on feelings or assumptions – from both the merchant and the staff member. Workshop participants shared examples of a situation they approached with too little skepticism and a situation where they applied appropriate skepticism.
Ask “Why?”, then Ask “Why?” Again: Oftentimes we get distracted by the “what” of a situation and go to work on that before fully understanding the “why.” We make false assumptions, filling in the blanks based on what could be erroneous information. As a group we talked through the various ways of asking “why” without sounding like a broken record.
Not only are the Customer Health Checkup and workshops free for Vantiv reseller and ISV partners, but we’ve streamlined them so they aren’t a significant time burden on you or your staff. You’ll receive the benefits of strengthening your company, improving your relationships with your merchants, and developing your staff while spending very little overhead timewise and no money out-of-pocket.
Please contact me through the form below if you would like to learn more about conducting your own annual Customer Health Checkup and professional development workshops. I’d like the opportunity to improve your customer satisfaction by 24% as well.