Customer Service is Critical! It can make or break your business, depending upon your business’ service focus.
Excellent customer service
Provide excellent customer service, and you will have a wonderful reputation. Past customers will extoll your virtues as they speak with their friends and family members. When someone calls them and happens to mention they need to find a company that does [fill in the blank], they will say, “Oh MY! You have got to use this specific company. They are fabulous!” And then they will proceed to explain why they think you are the best thing since the invention of the air conditioner.
And what does providing excellent customer service mean? It means responding to clients quickly and in the manner in which they wish to be responded. If someone leaves a voice mail message, it means calling them back as soon as you hear the message. It means responding to emails quickly. Also, excellent customer service means answering their questions or providing what they need as soon as humanly possible. It means exceeding promises. If you said you’d get the item there in three days and it makes it in two, you are a winner! And if you follow-up with a call to the purchaser to make sure your item arrived safely, WOW, you have gone the extra mile.
Excellent customer service will keep you in business a long time.
Poor customer service
If customers perceive your service as poor, you will continue to lose business as though you were operating in a sieve. If you provide crummy solutions or products to your clients, they will pull out their phone or computer and will immediately give you a one-star rating on Yelp. In fact, there are many other rating sites that can be populated with their low ratings of your company. How many of us have been in a restaurant that is just horrible and typed in a bad review while we were still sitting there? I’ll bet there are quite a few.
You know poor service when you see it, but here are a few ways to know it’s bad when you’re on the receiving end. A staff member ignores you while you wait for service of some kind. A clerk is on the phone or chit chatting to others instead of helping you. You receive a broken or incorrect item. You feel frustrated or angry or unimportant. If a business makes you feel that way, they are not making customer service a priority.
I have a financial account set up for my retirement. I recently decided to get some modeling done to make sure I knew what I needed for the day I “stop” working (it’ll never happen!). The company that has been managing my account for quite a while has not been satisfying me in terms of their customer service. They change the people who are responsible for my account on a regular basis. As soon as I have a working relationship with someone, they are gone. The company is no longer in my area so everything is done long distance. Every time I call, the call goes to voice mail. Anytime we do talk, they don’t offer any actual advice based on what they know of my needs.
A few weeks ago I set up a call and asked them to help me figure out my retirement planning. They said they’d send me a packet of questions, which they did (that was good!). I completed the questionnaire and sent it back. Then I heard nothing. No “we received your information and will be ready to discuss on such-and-such a date.” Nothing. Crickets. I wasn’t sure they had even received the information I sent.
Then a week or two later I received an email telling me a document was available for my review on their website. That was fine, so I downloaded it and read through it. It was obvious they had some questions with the information I sent them, but no one had called me to get clarification. As I read, I realized I had a few questions for them anyway, and since it was a Friday, I decided I would call them on Monday to get some answers.
On Monday morning, bright and early, I called and left a voice mail (of course, since no one ever answered the phone). The person I called was the person whose name was on the packet of information I received. He did not call me back. Someone else called me back and said he was calling to set up a meeting with the first guy. I said, yes, I’m available! When can we talk? They set up a call or four days later. I indicated it would only take a few minutes, I didn’t have that many questions. The nice man said, ok, great, we will cover them at our meeting.
I did not feel like a priority. Four days to get answers to a few quick questions?
In the meantime, I’ve been investigating another financial adviser. He has met with me several times to answer my questions. He and another manager in the office have contacted me on a regular basis with additional information. They are local and hands-on. They are responsive. I had already received a bunch of retirement information from them. I already had their advice on what I should do with my account to make it last as long as possible.
So what did I do when I received the four-day response to my request for a discussion with my current financial advisors? I called the second adviser and left a message that I wanted to move my account to their company, and I’d like to do it soon. I was called back immediately, and met with them five hours later. That same day I had completed all the paperwork to move to the more customer service oriented financial advisor. I also canceled my appointment with the first advisor.
The next morning I did receive a call from the first advisor, asking if there was something they did that was causing me to leave. I said, “Yes. I am not happy with your customer service.” And I explained why. Businesses need to know what they are doing wrong so they can get it right.
In this case, they will have to practice on other clients, because I am no longer interested. If your customer service stinks, you will lose business. It’s a fact.