Shaun Belding, who has written several books on customer service, recently blogged about his "10 customer service trends for 2012." He called the first trend "Rage Against the Machine," which is his way to characterize customers' desire to interact with real people.
Belding is CEO of The Belding Group, a leading global provider of customer service consulting, training and measurement. He envisions that "After decades of companies increasingly automating their customer service, look for more companies seeing the benefit of 'high touch.'"
Following are three examples of small businesses that are making it their business to deliver high-touch service:
Rob O'Dell, one of the principals at Wheaton Wealth Partners, says that he and the other co-founders established their wealth advisory firm in 2010 with a goal to challenge the status quo and develop individual wealth management plans that are unique to each client and their personal situation. "In order to do that, you have to get to know your clients on a personal level," notes O'Dell. "That on-going personal attention and interaction is important to building trust."
Personal phone interviews seeking client feedback confirmed their high-touch approach is working. Wheaton Wealth has grown quickly and now has more than $100 million of assets under management. They serve clients from two offices in Illinois and one in Naples, Fla.
Leslie Saunders has been in business for more than 20 years. She is the founder of her award-winning, name-sake company, Leslie Saunders Insurance, Benefits and Training Her business expertise, marketing acumen and years of success operating a nationally certified woman-owned business are highlighted in two books written by Susan Bari, "Breaking Through: Creating Opportunities for America's Women and Minority-Owned Businesses" (Women's Business Enterprise National Council, 2006) and "Yes. I Can Do That!" (Women's Business Enterprise National Council, 2007).
"Customer service is not something you delegate," says Saunders. "I meet personally with my major customers and take time to understand their needs. I see our firm as more than just a supplier; we are a partner with our clients."
In their book, "Exceptional Service. Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization" (AMACOM, 2010) Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon stress that, "A business needs to think like a customer. It needs to put in place processes that will mercilessly search and destroy anything that might inconvenience or disgruntle a customer. It must systematically incorporate procedures and build in product features that improve the customer's experience."
Irvin Schorsch, founder and president of Pennsylvania Capital Management, a wealth advisory firm in Jenkintown, Pa., knows what it means to implement procedures that improve a customer's experience.
"During a meeting with one of our top clients, we were reviewing his portfolio's progress for the year using our traditional presentation book. The client, a baby boomer, looked at me and said, 'Why can't we do all of this on an iPad?' This discussion changed the way we've always done things. We now query our clients about their preference for either print or digital and share information in the format they prefer!"
Permission must be obtained from CareerBuilder.com to reprint any of its articles. Please send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.