I was sent an email article from ICMI Call Centre this week, and the headline about customer perceptions of service levels really caught my attention:
“Customer satisfaction drops to its lowest point since 2011 and the Government unveils plans to tackle the problem.”
The article talks about the rise in customer expectation and the necessity for those of us in positions of a customer facing nature – to ‘up our game’ in order to meet these demands – they make the point that it is a buyers market for all the products on offer. In our case this is for childrens development and activities, adult fitness and all the other great services that you provide in your academy.
The meaning behind the term a ‘buyers market’ really becomes clear when you start to consider customer service and customer satisfaction. There is so much choice out there both within and outside the Martial Arts industry for children and adults to take part in. So, many businesses offering the same or similar services and products have to compete on multi-levels for new customers, and also to retain existing ones – those levels include the quality of product, the benefits the customer needs, the way that customers are treated, the facilities that you have and the way those customers feel after spending time in your business. In short, the total experience they have whether they are a student or parent waiting and watching the lesson.
Often the only differentiating factor for your business is going to be the level of service that you offer and this will be measured in terms of the benefits you deliver and the experience that they have when doing business with you.
The principle of having a customer centric approach – in other words – is putting the customer experience at the centre of all your plans and actions. This is nothing new but in a busy academy where you may be stretched for time and resource, putting thought into the customer experience may sometimes slip away from your priority list without you realising it. This could be fatal for conversion rates and retention rates; remember our industry still looses 6% of its students every month (attrition rate) – the cost of this throughout the industry is astonishing.
At this point I refer you back to the headline noted above – and hope that when reading it you will see a real opportunity for you and your business. With overall service levels in the UK being at a 3 year low, think how easily a few small changes could allow your business to stand out from the rest.
Looking at the recommendations in the report the thing that strikes me is that this is an approach that can be implemented with little or no cost:
• Be “easy to do business with”
• “Resolve customer problems promptly” [an opportunity for you to shine]
• “Deliver on promises”,
• “Train staff to handle a range of issues”
Add to these recommendations, the things that are specific to our industry and you have a powerful approach to get and keep more students:
• Care for all your customers – those who train and those who are the payment “gatekeeper” (parents)
• Make the time spent in your business as enjoyable as you possibly can
• Look after the needs of all the people you interact with
• Have a great place for them to visit
• Have a great and welcoming atmosphere
So whilst the Government work on their plans to tackle this nationwide issue, we could all think about how we can make changes ourselves. This would improve our own chances of gaining market share by getting more students and retaining the ones we have – through fantastic service and the caring for others that is at the centre of our Martial Arts teaching.
Quotes of the week:
“The man who can put himself in the place of another man, who can understand the workings of their minds, need never worry about what the future has in store for him.”
Owen D Young 1874 – 1962 (Lawyer, Industrialist and Business Leader)