Contributor: Katie Karpinski
Customer service is a relativity new concept. Sure, the phrase “the customer is always right” has been around for a while, but in the modern market companies are starting to truly understand the need for quality customer service. Customers have more options than ever, and prices are no longer being used as the sole factor in decision making. Instead, customers are turning to the quality of customer service they receive from a given company to help them make purchasing decisions.
According to a recent survey, 70% of participants said they were willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service, and 59% said that they would try a new brand or company in order to receive better customer service. (See full survey results here.) So let’s take a closer look at customer service by touching back to those basic 3rd grade inquisitive words: What, Who, Where, When, and Why?
Short answer: Added value So what is customer service? According to BusinessDictionary.com, customer service is defined as, “All interactions between a customer and product provider at the time of sale, and thereafter.” Put simply, customer service is the added value given to a customer throughout their experience with the company. This value can take many forms—be it providing useful and timely information, providing IT support, or having a user-friendly website; customer service is the company’s way of showing customers they care.
Short answer: Everyone Obviously customers are the most important players in the game. The company or brand is also a major player, as they are the perceived providers of the desired added value. However, there are some more subtle groups that should not be overlooked when discussing customer service. Company employees can make a huge difference in the success (or lack thereof) of a customer service program. Whether employees actually communicate with customers or not, having employee support and input regarding customer service efforts is essential. Another important group to consider are the networks of current customers. People are nearly 6 times more likely to spread news of bad customer service experience than positive customer service. Be aware of what your customers are saying about your brand!
Short answer: It depends With so many channels to choose from, it’s really up to the individual company to determine where their customers like to be reached. For some firms this could mean expanding your website to provide a more involved help-desk system. For others, this could mean making your phone number easy to find. Each company brings with it a unique customer base and value to provide. Take the time to learn about your customers and where they prefer to receive information.
Short answer: 24/7 We live in a world of constant communication. People live with the expectation of being able to contact anyone, any time they want. Not only that, but with the growing presence of the web, people now have access to endless information whenever they want. This combination means that companies must be available at all times. Being constantly available proves to customers your dedication to serving them, and can also give you a leg up on competitors that may not be readily available. Just think—if your pipes break in your home and your usual plumber doesn’t answer his phone, do you wait for him to call back, or do you keep calling until someone picks up? Be the company that always picks up, and your customers will return the favor with return purchases.
Short answer: It’s not optional anymore That’s just it— customer service is no longer optional. With changes in customer expectations comes changes in business processes. Customer service is something all companies must adopt if they wish to remain competitive. If keeping up with the industry standard isn’t enough to convince you on the value of proper customer service, take a look at these other advantages:
1. Customer retention is less costly than customer acquisition
2. Quality customer service demonstrates strong moral values
3. Quality customer service has been proven to reduce employee turnover and improve basic business processes
4. WOM advertising from positive customer service experience is priceless
5. Quality customer service strengthens your brand
Get started on building a positive customer experience with your customers today by registering for our upcoming course: Executive Support Professional Certificate