Marc Sparks is an entrepreneur who has been involved in more than sixty start-ups since the Seventies. Marc is also the founder, owner, and CEO of Timber Creek Capital, a private equity firm.
The term “quality customer service” is simply a collection of words that are tossed around by companies like towels in a dryer. Rarely have I found a company that truly stands behind that phrase.
Sam Walton, founder of the Walmart/Sam’s Club Empire, understood the importance of quality customer service. In fact, he sums it up quite nicely in one of my favorite quotes: “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
And the main reason someone would spend their money elsewhere? A poor customer service experience! Sadly, I don’t know a soul who has not had a horrific encounter with the service after the sale.
You usually get one shot at winning a customer, and if your sales process, customer service, follow-through, or even your shipping is anything less than great, then you most likely will suffer the consequences of a cancellation, return, or worse… that customer leaves and does not come back!
Jim Rohn, an entrepreneur, bestselling author and motivational speaker, once said: “One customer, well taken care of, could be more valuable than $10,000 worth of advertising.” I love that perspective, and it’s absolutely true!
That said, it’s often difficult to determine the exact “value” of quality customer service. This much I do know: Companies will spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars acquiring a customer, and then BLOW OFF that customer with lousy service after the sale. That’s simply preposterous!
I once owned an auto insurance company and we relentlessly looked at every auto insurance claim as a sales opportunity to keep that customer for life. Give me the chance to fix your problems and I’ll have a customer for years to come!
I’ve also owned a couple of restaurants during my career, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that quality customer service is the greatest differentiator going in that industry. People can eat anywhere; good food is available on just about any corner. People aren’t just there to eat; they’re there for the experience — which means you better be ready to deliver GREAT customer service.
That means your staff needs to treat every customer as though they are the most important person to walk through your doors. They could have gone anywhere to eat, but they chose your place. Enthusiastically greet them and personalize their experience as much as possible. Be attentive to their needs without hovering, and be ready to adjust at a moment’s notice.
In short, do what you do so well that they can’t wait to experience it again and bring their friends with them!
Those same tenets of quality customer service can be applied unilaterally throughout the business world. I recently came across a study of customer service of midsize companies, conducted by Dimensional Research in 2013, and their report had some rather convincing statistics:
Customers who are angry will call your company expecting a resolution — and fast! Quality customer service requires listening to the problem, clarifying that you understand what their pain point is, and finding a solution as expeditiously as possible. Well-trained staff will be able to handle almost any call, without the need to escalate it. How important is that? Well, that same research study pointed out that 69% of those surveyed attributed their good customer service experience to quick resolution of their problem. Conversely, 72% surveyed blamed their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problem to multiple people.
That’s why I invest significant time, energy, and resources to ensure the customer service for any of my companies is the best!
Is the customer always right? Yes … and no. Customers have purchased from you, and if there is legitimacy to their issue, they deserve a timely resolution. On the other hand, some customers simply look for axes to grind, and the people you’ve hired and trained and are just as passionate about your company as you are don’t deserve to be treated abusively… but that is for another blog.
In business, all you’ve got to entice first-time customers or repeat business are your products/services, staff… and reputation. Customer service is the lifeblood of any organization ties them all together. And that’s why quality customer service is absolutely essential.
Read more Marc Sparks’ insights at www.whoismarcsparks.com, his views on business and entrepreneurship at timbercreek.wpengine.com, and excerpts from his upcoming book, They Can’t Eat You, at www.marcsparks.com.