The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Often, I receive ads and emails from companies telling me how much the world has changed. “We don’t smoke in meetings anymore. We wear seat belts now. We also get work done differently,” one said recently. Thanks for the update. While that email was pointing out the incredibly obvious, it did get me thinking. We all know that technology changes how we do things in business, yet it still does not change the ultimate goal or the “why” we do things. At least it shouldn’t. Sometimes people become so enamored with the latest technology, they forget that those things are just tools. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan and believer in technology. However, our business goals must remain the same – find customers, keep customers, repeat. It’s that simple.
Many experts have tried to quantify how much it really costs to lose a customer and then have to go out and find a replacement vs. keeping the customers you have happy and onboard. Estimates range from 6 to 20 times more expensive to go the “lose and replace” route. But those rules have changed thanks to technology as well. It used to be that a bad experience would be told by a customer to as many as 25 people, while a good experience was told to only 5 or 10. It’s human nature to spread the bad news more than the good and that will probably not change. But with blogging and online reviews, a customer service experience can literally be told to thousands, even millions of potential customers! The true cost of a bad experience is incalculable, but one thing is for sure, poor customer service can and will completely decimate a business.
So while technology raises the stakes on providing good customer service, the keys to satisfying customers remain the same. In the end, customers are still people – not technology. They want to be treated with respect; they want to be listened to; and they want to be part of a positive resolution to any issues they may have. Companies that figure out that their job is to satisfy customers, not just fix product issues, are those that experience long-term success. Sure, in the process of working with a customer their product issues need to be addressed, but that does not take precedence over making sure the customer is happy, respected and treated properly. Only then will they be happy they chose your company and its products and will recommend you to others.
There is no short cut to providing great service. The good news is that as with all viable business skills, the more you practice them, the more efficient they become. Good service does not take more time than poor service. In fact, it does quite the opposite. The difference is the education to know what to do and when to do it. When this is coupled with the discipline to stick to the right path when it is new and unfamiliar, success and growth are sure to follow. Good customer service is not a “nice to have” feature for your customers. It is the life blood of every successful business.
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Barry Phillips is an expert in business development, marketing, presentation skills and leadership, with over 25 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and business leader. He is the co-founder and partner in Tracy Learning L.L.C. a leader in professional development training and consulting. He is also a published author, corporate trainer and facilitator. You can visit TracyLearning.com to learn more about customer service training.