Monday, July 28, 2008

Customer Service Surveys: Were Your Customer's Expectations Met

A happy client is synonymous with repeat business and business referrals. So my first goal, is to give the customer what is needed in an easy to read format. Most of my customers are amateur genealogist, retirees, or researchers needing assistance. They don’t want the ins and outs of genealogy, they want answers to their questions, verifications of kinship, documentation to support the research, all presented in any easy to understand report without a lot of jargon.

So with every completed report, whether by pony express or email, I send out a Customer Satisfaction Survey. It only contains questions that directly reflect the purpose, goals, and mission statement of my business as a Professional Genealogist: satisfaction, costs, response time. Since the survey should be short, concise, and easy for the customer to respond to, I created a five question survey (one printed page). If I send the report by mail, I send the customer survey in a self-stamped folded format, so they can open, answer, and drop in the mail. If I send the report by email, I attach a second file for the customer to complete online.

The Customer Satisfaction Survey allows the customer to provide immediate feedback that serves my main purpose: How can I improve my service? It doesn’t matter how well you research if the customer does not understand the report. It is equivalent to the best mathematician in the world teaching you math and not being able to explain how to solve a problem so you can follow the logic on the whiteboard. In the role of professional genealogist you must know your audience and write to their level of comprehension.

While one hand is on the pulse of communicating, educating and informing the customer, the other hand is checking the delicate balance of cost for the service and reasonable/ acceptable response time for the customer. This is another topic for a blog…coming soon. Of course, you must cover your costs and charge for your services, but being noted for “she’s good, but expensive” or “he’s good but slow” is not necessarily going to assist your workflow (unless of course, you want to limit your customer base). These values measured by the customer using the survey gives you a hint of your “genealogy reputation.”

The survey can also provide kudos for referrals. I merely ask “How could I have served you better? (Or any other comments)?” I receive answers that not only gives me feedback for bettering my service, it also generates wonderful comments like “I can’t imagine a more thorough approach to the topic requested.”

Suggestions for marketing and new services needed are also frequently given on surveys. One customer from Maryland wrote “Local knowledge of resources by an experienced researcher is a great help in efficient record discovery.” This rises the question of how can I market my genealogical expertise of the Kansas, Missouri (Kansas City area) migration to those searching but not willing to make the trip to this area. It would give me more excuses to stroll the aisles of the Mid-Continent Library’s new Genealogy Center along with other valuable resources at my fingertips here in the Midwest.

The saying “customer service affects your bottom line,” is true to genealogists also.

Happy Researching!
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

a3Genealogy Investigative-Forensic Genealogy Services

Forensic genealogy includes identifying and locating unknown or missing heirs and owners of unclaimed property. We evaluate kinship evidence and are experts at researching direct and indirect family lines. We are often called upon to verify relationships for DNA testing.


If you are in need of expert probate research in order to disperse an unclaimed estate, wishing to locate heirs or beneficiaries, or needing assistance with your missing persons research look no further than a3Genealogy.  We are an international investigative genealogist research firm, with years of experience in probate research, locating heirs, and verifying the relationships of the decedent’s heirs/beneficiaries.

As a professional investigative genealogist our research is used to determine potential heirs and locate beneficiaries. Whether you are an heir or possible heir to an estate, probate attorney conducting an heir search, or a trust officer appointed by the courts, a3Genealogy has the tools and resources to assist you.
a3Genealogy clients are billed at an hourly rate (vs. contingency basis) which often results in a substantial savings for you in the long run. We believe our clients prefer to set a budget per case.  

What we can do for you:
  • Genealogy and Genealogical Research
  • Locate Ancestors and document Ancestry (Proof of lineal descent)
  • Adoption and Guardian Research
  • Probate Research
  • Locating Heirs and Heir Searches
  • Estate Research
  • Locate Beneficiaries
  • Inheritance, Estate and Trusts Research
  • Real estate missing and unknown heirs
    (including quiet title actions, mineral rights, and oil & gas leases).
  • Citizenship and emigration.
  • Unclaimed persons and cold cases
a3Genealogy has extended its services to include professional investigative genealogy.
(updated 6 Feb 2012)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Living By Writing, Traveling, and Genealogy

It never occurred to me that I could indulge in my two favorite pastimes, letting one pay for the other, while still providing me with an income. I love traveling, visiting the most rural of spots of Comanche County, Kansas to the hills of Rutherford County, North Carolina, and let’s not forget those 3rd cousins three times removed long lost in California. So with a notebook, a laptop a dozen pens and pencils and a camera with a USB port, I’m off to the next location.

Okay, not so glamorous, but it is St. Louis in August to research WWIII military records. I negotiated an upscale Price Line hotel walking distance from the arch, an $8.00 roundtrip ticket on the MegaBus from Kansas City that will drop me off at the train depot within minutes from my hotel (and the arch), and I am off for 3 days of walking, researching, and fun.

So where does the money come in? From producing of course! I will write a quick guide to maneuvering the WWII records in St. Louis. No frills, no techno-speak, just “How to get my Information?” Not an original, but it will be written uniquely in my voice.

Following the writing, editing, and near-perfecting the manuscript, I will spend plenty of time on the marketing, so that I can pay for the next fun trip.

Hopefully, you too are doing your research and working in some travel!

Kathleen Brandt
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