Customer service “is where its at”… not price

12 Dec 2008

We are a company that unashamedly admits that price is one of the reasons why potential clients come knocking on our doors, and that’s great (for both parties), without being a bore, that’s because we are able to leverage Open Source projects to deliver a product that has no client licenses, so you spend your project budget in the areas that have the most impact, for you. But, price alone is not the reason why clients sign up and indeed stay with OpenCRM, in fact price often becomes so less important when offset against Customer Service, and that’s my point really!

A recent survey by

Accenture, the New York consulting firm, cited 67% of respondents as claiming their reasons for changing suppliers as ‘poor customer service’, with only 47% of respondents claiming that they changed because of lower costs.

Now that’s a significant number of people who appreciate the levels of service that they did not (and should have) received.

This could be very worrying for a mid market business owner (like me), who’s vision, for the company and our product, is to compete with the largest of providers and win, but I cant say that it concerns me. You see we have always understood how important customer service is, if not only because in the early days, it was all we had to offer as any differentiator for our clients. It is arguable that this customer service ethos (can-do attitude) is the most valuable asset that we possess.

Here’s the problem, as a modest sized company, as you grow, you need to keep a handle on how this ethos is promoted within your business, especially with new members of the team. Couple this with the need to recruit quickly (due to success), and you can see how difficult it might be to keep this imperative at the forefront of your business. We think we have done a good job at maintaining our levels of service, but I wont pretend that it is easy.

A few years ago it became apparent that we needed to dedicate more time and resources into our internal systems, like the old adage referring to “cobblers shoes”, we often spent more time helping clients develop better and more efficient processes, and neglected our own. We worked on the basis that we could always ‘knock something up’ for our own use, no need for the QA phase and what if no one else could use this, as long as it helps solve a problem for us… does this really matter?

So, having gone through this phase, and understanding that by adding the features to OpenCRM that WE need, we started to realise that just as important is the need to translate these features and processes into the way that we deal with our customers. The customer experience of dealing with us goes a lot further than just the Sales cycle and how we offer Support when something goes wrong, even though these are very important. How we pro actively support our customers systems and the management of the relationship is just as crucial.

So, Customer Service is “where it is at” for us, both now and going forward. We may not always get everything 100% right, first time (we are human), but, there is no excuse for not trying, and that is exactly what we do.