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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

THE RETENTION FACTOR: From Satisfied to Loyal: The Human Path

The Retention Factor with Rosanne D’Ausilio, Ph.D.

I’m reading The Cluetrain Manifesto (authored by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls and David Weinberger), a book that says many interesting things. It’s about the internet and the global conversation, and the power of it. And I quote:

“But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about ‘listening to customers.’ They will only sound human when they empower human beings to speak on their behalf."

According to a study done by DMG Consulting, 77% of consumers still consider the telephone the best way to interact with companies. Forrester Research found that when it comes to customer service, even the most highly digital consumers -- Gen Y -- prefer phone calls (41%) over store visits (35%) and email (6%). (CRM Magazine “Calling All Social Customers, August 25, 2009)

Let's at "First Call Resolution" for a moment (resolving your issue, question, problem or complaint in that one interaction.) According to a recent Yankee Group study 30 – 35% of calls coming into the average customer service center are unnecessary repeat calls. And 65% of all repeat calls are reportedly the result of agent errors, such as: No confident answer, the wrong answer, someone doesn’t follow through on commitment and the customer has to call again. This is good news and bad news. Of course, it’s bad news if 65% of calls are agent errors. However, the good news is that these are correctable as they are training matters.

To me, all of these are "human" issues. Those of you who have children might identify with my story. When I had my first child, Kevin, I wanted the absolute best pediatrician on the planet. I asked around and most people agreed on this one doctor, though they did tell me he didn’t have much of a "bedside manner." But I wanted the best so we went to him. Kevin cried each time we went. I figured all babies did that, and after all, this was the best doctor. The people referring him were correct. While he may be quite good at diagnosing, medicating, etc., I don’t recall ever having a real conversation with him. And I personally didn’t like him. What was there to like?

When Kevin was about 12 months, I decided to ask around again. This time I didn’t want any "yes buts." "Yes, but he’s not great with the kids; yes, but he has no patience (no pun intended); yes, but it’s hard to get an appointment with him," and so on.

I finally found a doctor that people had no reservations about. I called and skeptically set up the appointment and lo and behold, no tears from Kevin, and a really nice man, and great doctor -- not necessarily in that order. In that moment, I became a loyal customer. And for 18 + years he was the primary doctor for both my children, with absolutely no "yes buts."

What was the difference? The human path -- totally absent with the first doctor, and ever present with the second. Who would you take your business to? [Hint: the human path.] Me too.

Today parents have many more options than I had at that time, or we’d have changed doctors faster than the one year it took me to change to the good pediatrician.

What differentiates one company from another in today’s current economy and marketplace is not its products or services, but rather, its relationship with the customer. Who has that awesome responsibility? Your front lines, and anyone who has interaction with the customer, current, potential, or future. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

We, the people -- the humans -- are the ones who make the difference. Technology supports us, it does not replace us.

"The more high tech the world becomes, the more people crave high touch service."
— John Naisbett, Megatrends.

I’d love to hear your opinions, comments, feedback. Let me know what you think.

ROSANNE D'AUSILIO, Ph.D., an industrial psychologist, consultant, master trainer, best selling author, executive coach, customer service expert, and President of Human Technologies Global, Inc., specializes in human performance management. Over the last 23 years, she has provided needs analysis, instructional design, and customized, live customer service skills trainings as well as executive/leadership coaching. Also offered is agent and facilitator university certification through Purdue University’s Center for Customer Driven Quality.

Known as "the practical champion of the human," she authored the best sellers, Wake Up Your Call Center: Humanize Your Interaction Hub, 4th ed, Customer Service and the Human Experience, Lay Your Cards on the Table: 52 Ways to Stack Your Personal Deck (includes a 32-card deck of cards) motivational and inspirational readings, How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: 101 Insider Tips and hot off the press, How to Kick Your Customer Service Up A Notch: ANOTHER 101 Insider Tips (, The Expert’s Guide to Customer Service ( and her popular complimentary "tips" newsletter on how to kick your customer service up a notch available at

Rosanne is also a Certified Call Center Benchmarking Auditor through Purdue University's Center for Customer Driven Quality. This certification training focuses on the access and use of key performance data to help better understand benchmarking results so as to advise on practical solutions for improvement.

For 10 years prior to starting her own organization, Rosanne had responsibility for marketing, budgeting, promoting and ultimately producing domestic and international computerized trade shows in the US, London, Belgium, and Frankfurt. She inaugurated, created, trained and directed a telemarketing on-site staff and was one of the first 150 people to attain CMP (Certified Meeting Professional) certification.

She is a columnist for, Ask the Expert at, and The National Networker. She represents the human element on the Advisory Board of an Italian software company, authors numerous articles for industry newsletters, and is a much sought after dynamic, vibrant, internationally prominent keynote speaker.

For more information, please visit Rosanne's TNNW Bio.


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The Emergence of The Relationship Economy

The Emergence of The Relationship Economy
The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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