Customer service is critical to the success of any consumer focused business, and the companies that get it right are those that will command the strongest market share and customer satisfaction levels.
Despite what many management and C-Suite professionals might believe, good customer service is not an effort where focus is limited to the front line. It should be ingrained in the company culture, filtering down from the CEO to all members of an organization.
Loyal customer bases are built on good customer service. When customers are satisfied and impressed by the level of customer service that a provider delivers, they are more likely to engage in repeat business and provide testimonials and word of mouth referrals.
Customer Service Should Become Part of a Brand
The strongest brands are often those that have a reputation for exceptional levels of customer service. Companies like Apple, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and UPS, are often ranked amongst the best of the best when it comes to the service that is delivered.
Apple is a prime example and any entrepreneur or executive can learn from the lessons of the company, particularly during the second Steve Jobs era of management. At Apple, customer service is a company-wide philosophy, rather than just being a departmental focus at the bottom tier. Apple’s products have traditionally been developed with a customer centric focus. Everything from the innovation of the products, to the way that the packaging looks and feels, is focused on the customer experience. Apple has the luxury of running their own direct retail division, which allows them to control customer service and the overall experience, right down to the initial transaction and after sales service.
Not every company will have a structure like Apple, but their customer centric business model can be applied to almost any brand in any industry. Although customers typically only interact with front line employees, they consider all aspects of a brand to be part of customer service. If retail service is excellent but a customer has difficulty dealing with after sales support (such as a technical support or warranty service department) then their overall perception of a brand will be damaged. If a product doesn’t live up to its marketing, then this can have a direct impact on how customers perceive the service of a company. While some executives might see this as unfair, it’s the reality of how the market works.
The takeaway here is quite simple: if executives and management can ensure that customer service and customer experience is a cultural focus throughout the company, then the overall customer service reputation for a brand is likely to be high. When employees feel that they have a direct impact on the results of the business and how it is perceived by the market, they will have a higher level of engagement and become more mindful of customer service in all that they do.
Focusing on Customer Service Provides Benefits to the Sales Funnel
Good customer service directly affects retention, and customer retention costs significantly less than customer acquisition. Statistics show that customers will abandon a purchasing decision if they detect a poor customer service culture within a company, but with strong customer service, conversion rates can be higher. Perhaps most importantly, customers who get good service are more likely to spend more and spend again.
Executives and managers need to understand that:
- Every company is in the service business. Businesses of all types should see themselves as service providers and constantly strive to provide a better service, no matter what their actual offering is.
- Employees need the training and operational ability to make swift decisions so that they can better service customers. Employee engagement will allow them to feel empowered in a way that they can have a positive impact on company performance.
- Customer service training should be provided for all employees regardless of where they fit into an organization. Refresher training should be provided to staff on a consistent yearly or bi-yearly basis.
- The results of good customer service can be measured. Organizations that keep track of their customer service reputation can then draw direct correlations to sales performance, while identifying areas for improvement.
- Eliminating bad policies, processes, and systems is necessary. Delaying organizational change could be detrimental to overall customer service and experience.
By applying a customer focused mindset to a business from the top down, a culture of good customer service can be developed and maintained. The benefits far outweigh any internal growing pains that would develop. Improved reputation, sales, and customer loyalty is something that any executive and management team can get on board with.