Ardent’s Top Quality Service goes from Strength to Strength
Many suppliers talk about customer service as being their reason for success. These suppliers cite customer service as the reason for being different and why customers should buy from them. My sense is that savvy buyers are often dismissive of such claims, taking them with a pinch of salt. After all, if everyone is really that good then everyone’s customer service has got to be the same and therefore everyone is excellent. Right? And in this situation, given that service is no longer a differentiator, buyers are best buying on price and price alone.
So consider this: if everyone’s service is really that good why is it that, according to a leading benchmarking consultancy, the hire industry’s NPS is just 32 compared to the high 70s that organisations like eBay, Amazon, Harley Davidson and others achieve on a consistent basis?
For those that are unfamiliar with NPS, it stands for Net Promoter Score and it measures the extent to which customers will recommend a supplier to friends and colleagues. Its roots lie in the most effective of all types of marketing – word of mouth marketing. On a scale of -100 to +100, NPS is calculated by measuring the percentage of promoters (those that score you 9 or 10 on a scale of 0 to 10 in terms of their likelihood to recommend you) less the percentage of detractors (those that would score you 6 or below).
In conclusion, the evidence suggests that many hire companies are failing to live up to their claims when it comes to customer service.
So how can customers validate claims of excellent service from their hire providers? One thing they can do is to test the service themselves and trial new suppliers on a particular job. For some people this might be risky. Often suppliers will throw everything at these trials, including the kitchen sink, to convince new customers that their service is good. Yet such trials do nothing to measure dependability, speed, flexibility and value on an ongoing basis. For this to happen suppliers must have excellent processes that are capable of delivering time after time. So how can customers get some comfort that their supplier has these in place and is not simply trying to pull the wool over their eyes?
NPS, or a similar customer satisfaction metric, is one answer. At Ardent we like NPS because its principles are founded on science and the empirical evidence that was presented several years ago in the Harvard Business Review that showed that companies with high NPS are likely to grow twice as quickly as companies with low NPS. What’s critical about any customer satisfaction metric is that it’s measured by an independent third party and not by the organisation itself. If you’re measuring NPS yourself it’s like marking your own homework – in my opinion that should be considered as cheating and therefore dismissed. It’s also important that measurements are taken as part of day-to-day operations and are not conducted on an ad hoc basis. At Ardent our view is that we’re only as good as our last hire and therefore we look for feedback on an ongoing basis.
Colleagues that have tracked Ardent’s progress over the last 6 or so years will have seen our NPS improve from an average of 35 at the beginning of our transformation journey to over 74 today. We’re often asked how we’ve done this. There’s no simple answer here but it comes down to a combination of culture, process, data quality, digitisation, investment in fleet and an obsession with customer service that permeates every level in our organisation. Above all, it comes down to consistency. Consistency of messaging, consistency of management behaviour and consistency of obsession that never deviates from the core.
In summary, Ardent’s customer service really IS industry leading and we have the data to prove it. I leave you with this thought: to what extent are you able to say the same with your other hire suppliers?
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