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Two Relentless Customer Service Role Models and Incredible 2023 Financial Results

Amazon and Northeast Delta Dental were both featured in my book, Relentless. (See all my books). When I was quoted in the Time Magazine cover story on Customer Service in 1981 I said the only thing that motivates CEOs is hard numbers. Time Magazine called me a Customer Service Guru.

Amazon I believe is the most customer-driven firm in the world. They are Relentless. Net sales increased 12% to $764.8 billion. A $60.8 billion increase in revenue. AWS sales increased 13% to $90.8 billion. Net income was $30.4 billion. The $1000 I invested in Amazon in May 2023 is now worth $111,648 as of February 11. The net worth of Jeff Bezos, the founder is $192 billion. Obsessing over the customer experience pays off. I have never understood why more organizations do not copy Amazon’s obsession with customer service. Here is a link for their 2024 results.

Amazon has mastered speed and empowerment, they have reduced the friction for doing business with them, awesome at everything related to the customer experience, use your name, service recovery, and price. They are light years ahead of almost every firm in the world. I believe the reason most CEOs do not implement the service strategy is that they fail to understand the financial impact. I guess most firms don’t want a $60.8 billion increase in sales and most founders don’t need a $192 billion net worth. During COVID Amazon never let up on its focus on the customer. It is one of the few firms that used technology to reduce friction and improve the customer experience.

Another Relentless role model is Northeast Delta Dental. This is an insurance company based in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont. I have been working with Tom Raffio, President of Northeast Delta Dental, since March 1990. That is 34 years. Tom implemented The Guarantee of Service Excellence starting April 1, 1990, at Dental Dental Plans of Massachusetts before becoming President of Northeast Delta Dental in 1996.

In both my “Relentless” and “Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service” books, I featured Tom Raffio and Northeast Delta Dental. Very few firms in the world provide Relentless customer service.

Northeast Delta Dental’s Guarantee of Service Excellence

These seven guarantees are very important to the companies and employees that use Delta Dental. Instead of saying, “I am sorry,” when they fail to deliver on any of these seven guaranteed services, they pay money to the company.

GOSE Guarantee

From Northeast Delta Dental’s Guarantee of Service Excellence

The Guarantee: Accurate and Quick Turnaround of Identification Cards. Accurate identification cards will be available within 15 calendar days upon receipt of a completed enrollment form. Refund: Your group will be reimbursed $25 per pair of identification cards

What Happens if They Fail to Provide Identification Cards in 15 Days?
If a company with 100 employees signed up and the cards arrived one day late, or 16 calendar days after requested, Northeast Delta Dental would have to pay out $2,500. In 2023, they only had one client that was not delivered on time and they paid out $400.

Here is the link for Northeast Delta Dental’s 2024 payouts. They only paid out $1,248.08 in 2023 with 7 requests. This is the only firm I know of that guarantees their promises with money. Very few firms are willing to gamble real money when they screw up. Maybe that is one of the reasons their market share is so high.

They have 193 full-time employees, so they are smaller than many of the firms I talk about. However, the results are incredible every year. Market share is 62% in Maine, 61% in Vermont, and 56% in New Hampshire. This is an insurance company offering Dental insurance to companies for their employees. I suspect they have the largest market share of any insurance company in the world. Relentless customer service pays off.

View The Results From Northeast Delta Dental’s Previous 27 Years

In 2023 total revenue was $482,531,334. Total 2023 net income was $13,643,809. Northeast Delta Dental is a non-profit. The Reserve/Surplus is $186,313,898 vs $8,573,838 when Raffio started in 1995 as CEO with the GOSE plan. Primary subscribers are 579,892, and they Cover 1,055,677 individuals.

The amount spent on training in 2023 was $102,858.

Northeast Delta Dental has always measured the results each year. They understand the power of their Guarantee of Service Excellence.

Tom Raffio’s books are available on Amazon, Prepare for Crisis – Plan to Thrive and there are No Do-Overs.

Tom Raffio can be reached at traffio@nedeltal.com. Their website is www.nedelta.com Their office phone is 1-800-537-1715 or 1-603-223-1000. They are open from 8 am – 8 pm, and a live person answers the phone. We are now open until 8 pm with live people.  (Northeast Delta Dental did this for a customer who had a branch on the West Coast. Then discovered our New England customers love having live support till 8.  And people who know what they are talking about and answer in less than 30 seconds, with no miserable menus.)

If you have a firm in New Hampshire, Maine, or Vermont, make sure you experience Northeast Delta Dental in 2024.

COVID gave most organizations an excuse to lose their focus on customer service. Vail Resorts used to be an icon for great customer service. A role model for the world. I was just in Vail in February and will go back in March. The snow is great. The grooming on the mountain is exceptional but they have lost their way on the customer experience – the edge that made them great. Very few employees do more than the minimum. Most employees have mastered the word NO. Empowerment is not in their language. Lift tickets are $299 daily. Ski visitors are down 16%. Their greed for money at the expense of the customer will continue to erode their former brand.