Customer service. We all say we have it, but what is it? Where does it start?
Unless you are offering something you can’t get anywhere else, then you’re going to have competition from someone. So what makes your customers or potentials want to do business with you instead of them?
Assuming you have a good product then I’d say the customer experience would be the major deal sealer or breaker. Customer service starts the moment someone from your company answers the phone through the sales process and follow-up with your customer service department if a question or problem arises.
I guess what I’m trying to say is your company’s customer service should start with every employee. Those that are on the front line (be it a CS or delivery man), they have the one-on-one contact with the customer and can sway future purchases by their actions or inactions. We all build our business around repeat sales so everyone in the company needs to be goodwill ambassadors. The challenge for all of us is to find the friction in our process and smooth it out.
Let me give you two examples of positive CS experiences.
1- I recently had to go to Buffalo for an association/trade show for one of our new clients. The host hotel was the Buffalo Hyatt and we stayed there. They were going through some renovations like any other hotel, but I seemed to notice that everyone who worked there had a very positive attitude that was focused on the customers and it showed. When we checked out and our car came from the valet, it was filthy dirty (it was clean when we checked in) and I come to find out from the valet that they park guest cars outside so they can retrieve them quicker for guests. Needless to say, the positive experience of the last three days was ending on a sour note. The next day (Sunday), I get the standard thank you for staying at the Hyatt, yada, yada, yada, and if there is anything that we could do to improve our service, please email me (general manager). So I did, explained my story and in less than 15 minutes had a response from him apologizing and crediting our bill for $30 to get a car wash. The end result when/if I’m back in Buffalo, there is a better than 50/50 chance of me staying there again.
2- At that same show, I had the chance to talk to several dealers for this new client and asked them why they did business with Buyers Products. They all said it was because they made a good product, but more importantly the main reason is they did what they said they were going to do, when they said they were going to do it, and if any problems arose, they had their back with any product problems. Several told stories of how they needed product over the weekend and their salesman would actually deliver it to them before Monday morning. They are in a very competitive market and are growing at a pace that outsets the industry standards. Wonder why?
The key for us all is to follow our customers’ experience. From how they find out about you through the repeat orders. If there is friction along the line, work to smooth out the process so your customers have a positive experience.