Award Reveals Customer Loyalty Secrets

By Heather Baldwin

To increase customer loyalty, start at the top. That’s the one trend that really stuck out in Omega Management Group Corp.’s 2003 NorthFace ScoreBoard Awards, an annual award that honors excellence in customer service, as voted by the recipients’ customers. This year, 37 companies – a record number – qualified for the award. Rich Castellano, Omega’s executive vice president for client services, said the common denominator among the winners was the commitment by CEOs and top management to improve customer loyalty and retention.
A commitment from management, says Castellano, helps generate employee buy-in to the program, which is essential to its success. How do managers get that buy-in? Communication, says Castellano. “We start each program with an executive briefing. We do research on the company and share the data with the executives. If the data we review stays in that room, not much happens,” he explains, “but if the president of the company runs with it or it gets on the company Intranet, then it’s usually successful.”

Good communication between sales reps and customers also was a determinant of customer loyalty success. Castellano says that in surveying hundreds of companies’ customers he heard repeated complaints about unreturned phone calls and the inability to get an explanation as to why there was a delay or problem with an order. It is notable, he says, that customers weren’t complaining about the delays themselves; they simply wanted someone to call them and let them know what was going on.

Similarly, there was a communication disconnect with regard to the order itself. In measuring customer loyalty, Omega took a look at whether sales reps delivered what they promised. “A lot of times, what was delivered wasn’t always what the customer understood would be delivered,” Castellano says.

Each of the 37 award recipients, including Kronos Inc., 3M Touch, Bayer Diagnostics and Carl Zeiss, qualified by having measured their customer satisfaction levels at least twice during the year in such categories as technical support, field service, sales process, account management and training. “The award recipients are those who, based on survey responses from their own end users, achieved a 4.0 or above out of a possible 5.0 score in any of the categories measured,” says John Alexander Maraganis, president and CEO of Omega, a company that implements loyalty management programs to increase service revenues. “Omega’s market research indicates that achieving a 4.0 rating or above is an indicator of customer loyalty. This is the level that essentially locks-in profitable long-term customer relationships and significantly raises the bar for a company’s competitors.”

For more information about the awards, visit www.omegascoreboard.com