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“Many customers believe that their satisfaction with a particular vendor hinges on a single key employee.” – Neeli Bendapudi & Robert Leone, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 79. No. 10
Prevent your customer relationships from dissolving.
The importance of maintaining a customer relationship should not depend on the customer’s fondness for one specific employee. Your clients must know that the quality of service is a result of the efforts of many people, not just their point of contact. If your customer’s key contact leaves the firm or is promoted, the client must be aware that there will not be a gap in services: that their products or service will continue seamlessly.
The customer’s key contact possesses special knowledge about their needs. However, this contact often does not share the nuances of the client relationship with other members of his team or his replacement when leaving. If the new contact does not provide consistent messages or provide the same level of attention as his predecessor, the customer may feel slighted and uncertain about the level of service that your organization provides (this is where good Customer Relationship Management notes are leveraged). The trust that has built up over time can be shattered quickly if the client’s new contact does not demonstrate the same level of expertise previously provided.
Maintaining Client-Company vs. Client-Employee Relationships
It is important to ensure that your client can rely on more than one person from your organization to deliver their desired results. According to Bendapudi and Leone, in a Harvard Business Review article, “How to Lose Your Star Performer without Losing Customers, Too,” giving a client the opportunity to interact with several of your employees will dispel any notion that his key contact is indispensable. This will minimize the risk of the resigning employee taking your organization’s valued clients onto his next endeavor. By articulating the expertise of all of your employees rather than specific people, the client will associate the value of your services with the organization as a whole.
Additionally, by engaging your clients in transition processes or future planning, you can limit mistakes, productivity drops, and undue stress. It is often mistaken that a quick and discourteous remark about the departed employee is the communication of choice, but being told that the person they were provided was inferior does not make the company look any better. Being open and clear about the changes in a client’s support team and emphasizing the capability of new personnel is the most effective approach.
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