The Business of Reliable Third Party Endorsements




By Stephen C. Schultz


My 16 year old daughter appears to have some talent and skill around volleyball. She is a good athlete period. But, she has a passion and desire about volleyball beyond her years. She has aspirations to play in college and has demonstrated the maturity, motivation, drive and focus needed to get her there.



I was attending a parents meeting sponsored by the school district about the process of college recruiting and how to navigate not only the rules, but the politics. It was interesting to say the least. The presenter said that college coaches rely heavily on “Reliable Third Party Endorsements” to determine if they even want to take a look at an athlete. 

If athletic scholarships are being provided, that coach is essentially “purchasing” that athlete. The estimated costs associated with a single full ride athletic scholarship is somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000. Parents and athletes often make the mistake of thinking that the scholarship is there to entice the athlete to attend that particular school. In reality, the coach is actually making an expensive purchase; one they don’t take lightly. 

What this means is that the parents and the athlete can “toot their own horn” all they want, but the college coach is going to rely on the opinion and recommendation of high school coaches, club coaches, season stats and academics to determine if the athlete even gets an opportunity to demonstrate their talent. The coach will do all in their power to minimize the risk that a “student athletic product” under delivers or is defective in any way. Again, they will base their decision on “Reliable Third Party Endorsements”.

This started me thinking. (I know…always a scary thing!) 

As I serve in a leadership role at my place of employment, can some of these same principles apply? How often do we as an organization spend time in front of our clients and customers, those who purchase our products or services, and “toot our own horn”? Does it not make more sense that those purchasing our services would make decisions based on “Reliable Third Party Endorsements”?

In my particular field, the field of assisting families whose teens are struggling in one way or another, it is really not much different. There are Educational Consultants and other allied health professionals that provide the service of being a third party endorser. Parents and families who have used our clinical services often assume the role of third party endorser as well.  It is also important for us to have research and “stats” associated with the services we provide. 

This really isn’t much different than my daughter and her aspirations to play volleyball. As we perform in our duties in our chosen field of work, we must always remember to demonstrate passion in our profession or trade and provide service or products that are needed and valued. As we do this, we will hopefully accomplish these results through maturity, motivation, drive and focus.

Please allow me to share some statistics and information that I shared with the various admin teams at each of our treatment programs that relates specifically to customer service. While it was written and shared internally, there are still some applicable points for business in general.

I thought I would share some recent statistics from a Global Customer Service Survey done by American Express. I have also made a few comments in terms of what we can learn or take away from these numbers.



As I have been attending Weekly Administrative Meetings at all of our programs the last few weeks, it is apparent that there is some downward pressure we are feeling on the cost of our programs. We are in a very fragile worldwide economy right now and parents are “shopping for the best deal”.



While these statistics are general consumer statistics, they can also be applicable to the services we provide students and give us insight into the families we work with.



Statistic #1: 70% of those surveyed are willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service – up over 9% from previous years. 

Take Away: Price is important, but becomes less important as the customer perceives the value of our service. If they go somewhere else, the decision could be money driven. However, we always need to ask ourselves; “Did we do the best we could in assessing the client’s needs and providing a valuable solution?” 

Statistic #2: 60% of those surveyed think today’s businesses have reduced their focus on providing good customer service.  That is an increase of 5% over previous years.  They also think companies are paying less attention to service and more attention to cutting costs. 

Take Away: We can use customer service as a way to differentiate ourselves in the service we provide.  This is an opportunity to make sure our parents know what they are getting.  We need to make sure we establish appropriate expectations and educate our families to understand why they should be using our services.

Statistic #3: 78% of consumers have canceled a transaction or refused to make a purchase because of poor customer service. 

Take Away: Poor customer service can negatively impact our programs.  We must all be on board and aligned.  Parents must experience a consistent level of service from anyone he/she deals with. This includes the initial experience with admissions, as well as clinical, residential and academic services.

Statistic #4: 59% of consumers will try a new brand or company for a better service experience. 

Take Away: This is an opportunity to demonstrate through personalized and customized care and treatment that we are the "Gold Standard" in teen treatment services.  In a down economy, where everyone is extremely price conscious, this is our opportunity to provide real value!

Comments

Nathan O said…
This is a great post which got me thinking about my own habits and reliance on third party endorsements when making decisions. A while back I was searching the internet looking for stove pipe for a new pellet stove I have. As I evaluated suppliers of pipe I found myself immediately drawn to the customer reviews on their websites. I definitely gave a ton more consideration to what a random customer observed than I did the salesmanship of the site. Why? How could I put so much trust in one person over an entire company? I like the concept of customer reviews, but understand that many of them are not always completely true. I look forward to a system where the reviews I can trust are more and more from my trusted circles and networks. That way I can evaluate the evaluator while I am evaluating the source.
Thanks for the comment Nate. Yes, it is difficult to know who to trust in the world of online business, marketing and customer service. I appreciate you taking the time to share your insight.

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