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It’s Only Common Sense: Providing Super Customer Service
Did you know that a recent American Express poll found 78% of customers will stop doing business with a company if they feel they have been given poor customer service? Did you know that according to another survey it costs 15 times more to get an order from a new customer than to get one from a current customer? Did you know that most customers who are happy with your customer service will just quietly leave? They will not tell you they are unhappy, and in many cases they don’t even care enough about your relationship to bother to do anything to sustain it.
And finally, and this is an interesting point, did you know that over 90% of companies surveyed felt that their customer service was pretty good? I suspect that those companies who know that their customer service leaves a lot to be desired will say something like, “We’re no worse than anyone else.” Now that’s a great claim, isn’t it?
Look, I can imagine some of you out there rolling your eyes and saying, “Not this customer service thing again; how many times do we have to hear about this? We get it!”
Guess what? You don’t get it, at least not in our industry and I suspect in many other industries. We are just not there yet. In some cases, companies are not even out of the parking lot when it comes to great customer service. I once spent an entire week arguing with a PCB shop’s management team trying to convince them that they needed to make delivery dates! They just didn’t buy into that strange philosophy; they wanted me to move on and start advising them on how to solve their terrible customer retention problems!
I recently came across a terrific book on customer service by Flavio Martins. Win the Customer: 70 Simple Rules for Sensational Service is filled with new and innovative ideas and strategies for improving your customer service. I thought this would be a great time to pass on some of the more interesting, pertinent and instructive ideas from the book.
The first one that struck me was Compete only Against Yourself. Think about that for a minute. How many times have you caught yourself saying “We’re no worse than anyone else”? How many times have you based your own customer service on what the other guys are doing, or what your competitors are doing? The author says that this is a complete waste of time, and I agree. We should work on being the best we can possibly be rather than just better than the other guy. This is especially true in an industry like ours where the other guy ain’t that good. Strive to always be better, to always find a way to execute the very best customer service that you can.
Another great point from the book: Do a 60-second Customer Experience Evaluation. I found this particularly interesting. The author asks you to take just a minute to do a self-evaluation of your customers’ experience dealing with your company:
60: Is the customer experience and service part of your business culture?
50: Do you have a customer experience advantage?
35: Is customer communications part of your customer experience?
25: How quickly does your customer service respond to customers?
15: Do you use customer service to let customers know you appreciate them?
05: Does your customer experience include customer feedback?
By answering these questions honestly, you will have an excellent picture of your company’s customer service.
And one more from the book, “Ditch the Dumb Customer Service Rules!” That means removing any stupid policies that favor your company to the detriment of your customers. And while you at it, get rid of the “P” word, “policy,” while you’re at it! Customer service means giving the customer what he wants, period. If the customer wants boards shipped in packages of 10, do it. If the customer wants the boards quoted a certain way, do it. Please don’t ever say (or let any of your staff say) things like, “That’s not our policy.” Or “That’s not the way we do it here.” Or worse yet, “If we have to do it this way for you, we’ll have to do it this way for everyone.” Guess what? If you actually think that everyone would want it this certain way, it’s a pretty big indication that it’s the way you should be doing it in the first place!
And finally, here is one I am sticking in although it is not in the book. If you have an automated phone system with an electronic voice asking if you know your party’s extension, get rid of it. What you are really saying to anyone who calls is, “Our time is much more important than yours and we would rather you not bother us at this time. So, if you really do want to reach the party you have called,” as Ernestine would say on Laugh-In, “then it’s up to you to figure out how to work our phone system.”
So if you have one of those phone systems, get rid of it. Then, hire the salesperson who sold it to you, because that has to be one hell of a great salesperson. It’s only common sense.