Do businesses prioritize customer service anymore? How many times have you gone to a fast-food restaurant and had to wait for the server to finish his/her conversation with a co-worker before they'd ask for your order? Or how about returning an unwanted item to the customer service center of your local retail store? Do they act as if they are doing you a favor by simply waiting on you? I'm fed up with our culture's lack of customer service!
I know, what can I expect from a teenager who's making minimum wage at the burger joint? Well, I expect fast, friendly, reliable service, that's what! If it weren't for us -- their customers -- they wouldn't have a job! When are they going to wake up and realize their customers aren't an imposition, we're the reason they're working in the first place.
You know who I think is at fault here? Often times it's the management. I don't believe they're training their employees to serve their customers, perhaps because no one taught them!
When I do business with someone, I expect excellent customer service. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. And I also don't think it's that hard to do. In my own business, I make customer service a priority." I WILL NOT stop until my client is satisfied. If I've made a mistake, and I have, I make it up to my client. If I cannot correct the error, I offer my client discounts and other amenities to make it up to them.
If you think I'm laying it on too strong, think about this: A bad customer experience can spread ten-fold. You know the old saying, "If a customer experiences bad service, they'll tell 10 friends, who in turn tell 10 friends, and so on."
In "Customer Service is Not a Four-Letter Word", Gregory P. Smith states, "Many organizations have eliminated the human element, replacing it with a lower-cost, impersonal conglomeration of voice mail, email, and online request forms. For many shortsighted service companies, it is about cutting costs, cutting corners and driving up profits."
I'd like to add one of my personal pet peeves to his list of impersonal conglomerations: telephone menus. You know, where you call a number and go through the list of options, never having the opportunity to speak to a live person. Sometimes, that's all I need to do. Financial institutions, and banks in particular, are infamous for doing this. What happened to good old-fashioned customer service?
I believe good service can make up for a lot. If a customer feels that you really care about them, they not only will continue doing business with you, they'll give you some leeway when you need it. Humans aren't perfect and there will be times when we make mistakes. If you have a good relationship with a client, there's a good chance they'll realize that people make mistakes and continue doing business with you instead of switching to your competitor.
I cannot stress enough how important I think superior customer service is to a client-business relationship. Think about the times you've been treated exceptionally well by a business and how it made you feel. Alternately, consider the times you were treated poorly by a representative of a business. This little exercise will give you a good idea of how important customer service is to a business that wants to stay in business.