During my more than thirty-five years in the business industry, I have learned, through experience and benchmarking best practice companies, what it takes to run not only a business, but a successful one. What follows is the ninth article in a series of twelve that will position any business for success.
In my last column I discussed the importance of effective communication, which is essential within any successful organization. While communicating to win, successful businesses need to make sure they are pleasing their fans.
All businesses want lots of loyal fans or customers, and every team has to work proactively to build its fan base. While building a new fan base, businesses must work to keep their current fan base happy. This is similar to the campfire song: “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” There has been much research that suggests that keeping your current fans (gold) and retaining them is much more profitable than losing them and having to invest in attracting and acquiring new customers or fans (silver).
My company backs up our customer service with a customer guarantee, titled the Guarantee of Service ExcellenceSM (GOSE) program. By doing this, we are staying true to the gold and silver concept, as it is set-up to both attract new customers (silver) and keep our existing customers (gold). Additionally, I tell my colleagues that if they are going to excel at one thing, it should be their customer service. Our GOSE program includes seven key areas that if not met, result in a proactive refund to the group/customer. I have explained these in detail below.
- Smooth Implementation to Northeast Delta Dental. This guarantee promises that if you are currently not a customer but switch to us, your transition to the company will be smooth. We allow the customer to determine if the transition was smooth or not, and, we return one month’s administration fee if it is not.
- Exceptional Customer Service. Our customer service team is in-house, right at our Concord, New Hampshire, headquarters, and it always will be. We promise to resolve inquiries immediately or guarantee an initial update within one business day. It not, we reimburse the group $50 per occurrence.
- Quick Processing of Claims. We guarantee that 90 percent of a group’s accurately completed claim forms will be processed within 15 calendar days. If this does not happen, we refund one month’s administration fee.
- No Inappropriate Billing by Participating Dentists. We guarantee that our customers will not be charged for more than the appropriate co-payments at the time of service. If this happens, we will refund the group $50 per occurrence.
- Accurate and Quick Turnaround of Identification Cards. We will mail accurate identification cards within 15 calendar days upon receipt of a completed enrollment form or request. If this does not happen, we refund the group $25 per pair of identification cards.
- Timely Employee Booklets. Plan description booklets and/or Outline of Benefits will be mailed within 15 calendar days of request. If this does not happen, we refund the group $50 per occurrence.
- Marketing Service Contacts. Each group receives at least two marketing service contacts. This provides person to person contact and helps create trust between our company and its group customers.
In conclusion, while it is usually more profitable to retain current “gold” customers, insurance companies almost always need to price aggressively in order to attract a new “silver” customer. If a guarantee area is not satisfied and it results in a refund to the customer, Northeast Delta Dental views this as an investment in the customer and allows our company to address why this was not met and we learn from it. If your company provides and guarantees exceptional customer service that far outshines competitors, your fans will not stray.
Image courtesy of Christian Carollo