In a world focused on search engine optimization (SEO), current hot topics include search result ranks, social mentions and content marketing. However, customer service remains a top priority and key element to running a successful business. According to an SEI survey by Forbes.com, 86% of buyers will actually dole out more cash to a company who provides customers with a better experience. With only 1% of customers in that survey claiming to have had their expectations met, you have a huge opportunity to gain that competitive edge by merely improving your customer service! And the door swings both ways. Right Now conducted a survey showing that 89% of consumers switched to a competitive company directly following an experience of poor customer service. In the next couple paragraphs, I’ll lay out five basic ways in which customer service makes a strong impact – how it affects either the growth or decline of your business.
1. Keeps Your Customers Coming Back!
Quality customer service will keep your customers coming back. They will be loyal! Elementary? Sure. But if you’ve ever had conversations with incompetent and unfriendly customer advocates, you already know that the owner or supervisor’s training of their employees to treat customers with respect and kindness isn’t always a reality. Somehow the principle of “the customer is always right” or even the simple conviction that customers are human beings gets lost in translation. Imagine the profit your company would see if the vast majority of your customers continued to do business with you rather than switching to your competitors. You wouldn’t have to invest in fancy promotions to lure them back! Or major discounts to keep them happy. They will stay with you because they are treated well. Don’t let your competitors outshine you in customer service!
2. Happy Customers Will Pay Top Dollar
Loyal, happy customers will pay top dollar for a positive customer experience. Again, this is basic common sense but envision yourself as a consumer. Company A has a great product but it’s a pain to work with them. Company B has the same great product but treats you courteously! Obviously you will pick Company B. I often wonder if some people have difficulty treating others with respect because can’t see them face to face. As more and more of our business is done online or over the phones, it is crucial for us to fight to maintain that human connection and rapport. In a recent conversation with my dad, I was reminded of a principle he drilled into me during my youth. He and my mom have owned a weekly newspaper since my first year of life. Therefore, all my job positions growing up involved selling ads, answering phones, writing stories, interviewing and the like. In addition to “the customer is always right” principle, I also heard “smile when you’re talking to customers over the phone because that carries through the line.” This is so true! If you smile, your attitude will follow suit and customers will notice. When customers feel respected and taken care of, they will pay top dollar. Even if there is a mishap, they are more likely to understand and forgive. Treat customers like your favorite people.
3. Customer Reviews Matter!
Whether consumers are checking out reviews on your site or looking at other online directories and sites, they do matter. No one wants to take a chance on a company with poor reviews, unless they are possibly desperate and on a very low budget. Consumers typically take the time to write a review based on the quality of service they receive. Nothing hits a nerve and fires people up more than being treated poorly. An angry consumer will want the world to know how they were treated. The same goes for positive customer experiences. Happy customers will want to return the favor and let others know how great your company is! These customer reviews will not go unseen. Everyone I know considers the process of checking customer reviews to be an intelligent and sensible step when choosing anything from restaurants to moving companies. Keep your customers happy and they’ll shout your praises.
4. Social Media Wildfire
Speaking of customers shouting your praises. Word of mouth now spreads faster than ever before due to social media outlets. These reviews and recommendations reach beyond online directories into the day-to-day lives of every friend and follower of your happy (or angry) customer. No endorsement rivals those given by friends you know and trust. With social media, you have the opportunity to spread trusted reviews to hundreds and thousands of people for free. Take care of your customers and give them an opportunity to “like” your page. Social media is a limitless outlet for free advertisement.
5. Let Your Good Ethics Set You Apart.
Finally, quality customer service is just good business ethics. In my opinion, “treat your customers as you would like to be treated,” falls under the golden rule. Treating people with respect and doing things right will speak volumes to your customers. Sadly, as with most things in life, employees often take the easy road and fail to work at keeping their customers happy. By putting serious effort into this area of your business, you will set yourselves apart from the majority of your competition. Not only will you be treating people right, you will be helping your business thrive.
I hope this post causes you to take a closer look at the importance of customer service. Have you picked up any principles or nuggets of wisdom in this area during your years in business? Please share your thoughts and insight!