January Chairman's Report
-- A Commitment to Serving Our Customers --
Shortly after the end of World War II, a family purchased a dog and registered it with the American Kennel Club in their daughter’s name. That registration decision was certainly a nice way of saying to their daughter, “This dog is yours to keep, care for, and love throughout its life.” The dog and child formed a bond which left an indelible memory with the woman into adulthood. Decades later, the woman contacted the AKC hoping to find a connection to her childhood dog. Kellie Sager, an AKC Customer Service Representative, was able to find and order both the registration and the pedigree for the customer’s beloved dog. When Kellie gave the caller this good news, the woman was overwhelmed and cried at being able to have something tangible that linked to her memories of her dog – her name on the registration of her childhood friend.
For those of us in the Fancy, registration has very practical purposes. It both records the dog forever in the stud book and opens the myriad of options for the dog and owner’s participation in the world of the AKC. For the rest of the people who register their dogs with AKC, that registration can mean so much more. And there is one group of AKC Staff that knows this far better than anyone – the AKC Customer Service Representatives.
Led by Glenn Lycan, the 29 dedicated people in this department answer about 440,000 inquiries (85% are phone calls) throughout the year – and most of the calls address some registration question. Knowing how important those issues are to the callers, AKC management established complex and stringent objectives to ensure the best possible caller experience. Last year, the CSRs met those goals over 90% of the time, a remarkable performance. They are committed to constant improvement and delivered at a rate of 97% during the last month. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? It is, but it is not unusual for AKC Staff.
We fully understand that every one of our constituents is really a customer. Every breeder, owner, exhibitor, judge, and club might be regulated by us in some manner, but they are also our customers. It has been said that the purpose of a business is to create a customer who creates customers. It is a concept that fully works at AKC. If we build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. It used to be that a customer experience would be communicated to a few friends through the physical world. With social media, people can tell a few thousand friends. Word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising in existence and it can either work for you or against you. We work diligently to create the positive outcome with our customers that will fuel positive word of mouth.
Our commitment to serving our customers manifests in the many additional services the AKC makes available at no charge, including Breeder Online Record Keeping, breed information and Find a Puppy to assist prospective owners, online access for exhibitors to review points earned and event results, the online competition management system (OCMS) to assist clubs in planning and managing events, and event liability coverage for judges.
In fact, customer service is just a day in, day out, ongoing, never-ending, unremitting, persevering, passionate, and compassionate activity at AKC. Do we always get it right? Absolutely not. But we know that every time we don’t is the opportunity to learn and improve.
In addition to our commitment to serving our customers, we believe our customers must have the same commitment to serve their customers. The best example of doing that right comes from the Happiest Places on Earth – the Disney Parks. Disney has customer service formulated so well that they even teach it through the Disney Institute. Of all that they teach, probably the single most instructive thought for everyone in the Fancy is this: Make every customer feel important by being assertively friendly - something we have all experienced as a guest at Disney. Imagine the impact on our sport if every exhibitor got that “Disney treatment” from everyone at every event. I am very interested in hearing what you do to deliver that “Disney treatment” to exhibitors – please share it with me and indicate if I have permission to pass it on to others.
Finally, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said.” If you have suggestions about how AKC can improve customer service, please send them to me.
As always, your comments are welcome: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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