“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.”
Sam Walton, Founder Wal-Mart
Last week I experienced two contrasting examples of customer service. One was very poor, and the other excellent. I accompanied a friend to the mall to pick up some items and make some repairs. On approaching the first store, we looked out for the sales staff to nudge them in our direction but no one saw us. After a few minutes of scanning around, we spotted a staff that was restocking the shelves. We walked over to her and asked if she could provide the service we wanted. Without looking at us she mumbled yes. We felt funny but still hoped she will leave what she was doing and give us some attention. When she did not budge, we asked her who in particular would assist us; to which she rudely retorted, “anybody can do it.” At this point, we were no longer interested and decided to try somewhere else.
As we went out towards the next store, we noticed the staff were standing close to the door and basically smiling at everybody passing by. When they were sure we were headed in their direction, they came to us and asked what they could help us with. Needless to say, we ended up buying from them and spending more than we had earlier intended simply because of their welcoming attitude.
Compare this with the first store and you can see how easily businesses lose money because of poor service. Good customer service endears people to you and helps you gain loyal customers. A bad experience on the other hand can stop you from acquiring new customers and even make you lose the ones you already have.
Generally, people are willing to patronize a business even when there are better alternatives just because of the way they are treated. Considering the stiff competition most businesses face, it is only wise that you invest in quality customer service delivery as a key component of your competitive advantage.
Below are some other bad customer service examples you should avoid in your business:
Unfriendly staff: Staff that do not smile and answer customers without looking up at customers or talking while staring at their computer screens or phones. It makes the customer feel like they are not important and says that the staff would rather be doing something more interesting.
Getting orders wrong: It is always infuriating when a business has gotten an order wrong and instead of rectifying it, they dismiss it by saying “it’s the same thing.” When customers request an item, they want what they asked for. No additions, no subtractions. If for any reason you want to alter a customers order, you have to let them know you are making a change to their order.
Lying to customers: Closely related to point above is misleading customers either deliberately or not especially as it relates to delivery times and options. If you cannot meet a client’s need, be honest and let them know. When you deliver a good product late, you take the joy away for the moment and end up creating a bad reputation for your brand.
Handling complaints poorly: Does your business make it difficult to complain? If yes, you are not creating happy moments for your customers. In some instances a customer will be dissatisfied with a product or service and request to see a manager only to be told he or she is not around just to avoid a confrontation. Also making excuses and dismissing customer opinions is not good for your business.
Taking too long to respond: You are also losing customers if it takes you too long to respond to customer queries. Very often when a customer contacts you to provide additional information, they are probably thinking of buying. When you do not answer in a timely manner, they will move over to the next alternative.
Good customer service is a deliberate choice a business owner must make. It starts from training your team to understand why customer service is important and how it affects the bottom-line to impressing on them the need to smile and treat every person that walks through your doors as the only customer you have.
You should also ensure that all customer touch points are memorable. And as much as it is possible, strive to delight your customer. Treat your staff well so that they in turn are nice to your customers not only when you are around but also in your absence.
What are your experiences of good or bad customer service? Please share in the comments below.
This was first posted here.