EPMEPM: Case Studies

Customer Service Excellence

Property Management Software providers Rockend recently won the CSIA National Award for customer service for small business.

Sold Magazine spoke to Rockend CEO John Goddard to find out exactly what it takes to win such a prestigious award.

Customer Service Excellence

Property Management Software providers Rockend recently won the CSIA National Award for customer service for small business. Sold Magazine spoke to Rockend CEO John Goddard to find out exactly what it takes to win such a prestigious award.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ARE THE KEY FACTORS TO ROCKENDS’ SUPERIOR CUSTOMER SERVICE?

People are the heart of customer service. The majority of our staff areof a real estate background, and are very competent in property management, trust accounting and also strata management. Because of their experience in the industry, they are empathetic to our clients, and what they need to succeed in these roles. Having industry experts supporting our clients is, I believe, one of the key factors to Rockend delivering excellent customer service.

The other part of it is we really like to develop and invest in our people. When you invest in people, they return the extra service and our clients see this. Clients really know if someone is enjoying what they do and the attitude of our people comes across all the time, our clients tell us that.

WHO DO YOU THINK HAS THE MOST IMPORTANT ROLE WHEN IT COMES TO CUSTOMER SERVICE?

Customer service is not just about the people who deal directly with the customers, in terms of face to face or on the telephone. Our software developers’ work closely with our client service team so there’s a connection in terms of knowledge and what our clients need in the software. This is also the same in the way we sell our software. Our sales team connects closely to our client service and product team so they can pass on the knowledge of what our clients needs directly to our product team.

Having our sales, product, and customer service teams, directly connected to each other is very effective and this transparency is the mechanism that allows for the positive customer service attitude to flow through to our clients. Even when it comes to accounting, which some people may see as the less interesting part of the business, we are mindful to have a professional manner in the way we interact with our clients. Generally, there is a positive environment in this company when it comes to dealing with our customers. We actually like our customers and I think our customers generally like us too!

Customer service is not just about the people who deal directly with the customers.

HOW DOES ROCKEND MEASURE CUSTOMER SERVICE?

We use a customer service charter, which is essentially what we as a business put our hand on our hearts and say we commit to for our clients. We believe our clients’ value us for their ability to access support, for the knowledge that the support team provides them and for the attitude with which that support is given.

Our three main Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are “access”, “knowledge”, and “attitude”. These are broken down and measured individually. For example, the way that we measure access is to track the time it takes to respond to calls coming in, how long it takes for a case to be resolved, and the overall customer satisfaction by conducting a client survey every month.

We send the survey to between 250-300 clients that have logged a case in the past month. We ask four basic questions relating to the three KPI’s and one overall question. We measure responses on a scale of one through five, five being outstanding, and one being unsatisfactory and we have a target KPI of 4.5 or higher, which is a high standard to set but we generally manage to get over four, heading towards 4.5 each month.

WHAT TIPS CAN YOU GIVE TO OTHER SMALL BUSINESSES WHO WANT TO EXCEL IN CUSTOMER SERVICE?

A man much wiser than me, Peter Drucker, said that there are some key things that any organisation needs to understand about itself and about its market to be successful. An organisation needs to ask itself, why does our organisation exist? According to Drucker, the answer is to create a customer. It’s a philosophy every business should have, whether it’s a one person business or wants to be a hundred person business like us, or wants to be a thousand person business over time, you have to think about how you create that customer and therefore build a relationship.

WHAT ARE ROCKEND’S CLIENT SERVICE GOALS FOR NEXT YEAR, WILL YOU BE AIMING FOR THE MEDIUM SIZED BUSINESS AWARD?

It’s an interesting challenge, as we definitely won’t be measured as a small business next year! It’s good to compete, but you don’t have to compete every year. The most important thing is to continue to look at our business processes, to look at how we manage our people, to look at how we work with our clients and see where we can improve things. To be successful, we need to keep making lots of little changes. We never lose sight of the fact that others are going to try and do what we do, and to stay at the top we need to keep improving one step at a time.

The most important thing is to continue to look at our business processes, to look at how we manage our people, to look at how we work with our clients and see where we can improve things.

HOW DID ROCKEND CELEBRATE THIS ACHIEVEMENT?

Over twenty staff attended the awards night itself, and immediately afterwards we made key announcements by video which is a communication method often used internally at Rockend . We shared it at a company breakfast the next day for the people who are based in our Sydney office and we have raised this topic at a number of events since. Each employee also received a lovely gift boxed bottle of Moet &Chandon, which had a special label on it thanking staff for their contribution to the award. We will continue to celebrate through the rest of the year, we won’t drop this one!

DOES ROCKEND COMPLETE ANY OF THE CSIA TRAINING ON OFFER?

Yes we do. We currently have five people who have completed the individual training course that CSIA offer and next year we are planning for more of our people to undertake this course. We are also recertifying in 2012, which is where we invite the CSIA auditors to come into our offices and check the improvements that we said we would make the last time we went through the certification process and also set more goals for the future. As members of CSIA , we work closely with them to constantly look over our procedures and make improvements where possible.

I would recommend any organisation who doesn’t know about the Customer Service Institute of Australia to go to their website; www.csia.com.au and have a look at the organisation, see what they do, look at their certification process and ask yourself, “could we do this”? I believe that there are lots of small businesses that could become actively involved with the organization, and even if you don’t enter awards, you can pick up some great tips and network with like-minded individuals and businesses. For more information on Rockend, visit www.rockend.com.au.

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John Goddard

John Goddard is the former CEO of Rockend since 2004. He is personally committed to life-long learning and encourages all Rockend staff to take control of their personal development, both through work and personal learning.