The Value of Customer Service

Exceptional customer service is more important than you think.  In business we love the bottom line, so I’ll begin with a question about some pretty widely discussed and attention grabbing numbers:  If acquiring new customers costs 5 times more than retaining existing customers, and retaining just 5% more of your existing customers can improve profitability from 25%-100%, why on earth aren’t we spending more time and effort on pleasing our customers?

Need another reason?  Today there are choices for just about everything we consume.  It is a rare and typically short-lived luxury to have a product or service that is both in demand and without competition.  If there is a market for your product, there is most certainly a competitor on your heels.  To both outdo your competition and avoid being perceived as a commodity when your market matures, you absolutely must differentiate.

There aren’t infinite ways to do this, so you must be strategic.  One of my favorite mentors of all time would argue that your only options are to be faster, better, or cheaper.  For the purposes of my writing, I will focus on being better.  Not the engineering, manufacturing, Six Sigma kind of better – the human side of better; customer service.

As customers, we are often acutely aware of service levels; our time and money are precious to us so we enjoy, even prefer, knowing that they are appreciated and considered valuable where they are spent.  Yet when we trade hats, we often struggle to deliver satisfactory let alone exceptional service.  As leaders and managers, we sometimes confuse true customer service management with problem solving and the application of band aids because they’re easier to get our arms around.  We operate on the assumption that hiring congenial people and setting up basic routines at customer touch points will delight our customers and are left scratching our heads when they don’t.  Simply put, you must learn how to exceed customer expectations in terms of your people and processes in order to deliver the results that both you and your customers want.

Exceptional customer service will distinguish your brand, it will generate evangelistic loyalty from your patrons, and it will provide a marked improvement to your bottom line.  Whether you are a leader, manager, front-line customer service employee, or simply fascinated by the topic – I hope you’ll stay tuned as I explore this path.

Thank you for reading; I look forward to reading your comments and suggestions for future posts!

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