Keep ’em coming back with great customer service

In all walks of business, the customer is king.

Keeping His Royal Highness happy and content is the best way to avoid banishment from the kingdom, which is why great customer service is a key component for any industry to survive and thrive. It’s been estimated that 78 percent of consumers have bailed on a transaction due to poor customer service. According to statistics from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it’s up to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one, and news of bad customer service reaches twice as many ears as praise for good service.

You may be thinking, “Yeah, but that really doesn’t apply to me! We provide great customer service.” OK, then consider this: A 2005 study by management consulting firm Bain & Co. found that 80 percent of companies believe they are delivering superior customer service while only 8 percent of customers said they are receiving it.

The first line of demarcation separating good and bad customer service is having a staff that is trained to speak knowledgeably about a company’s services and products. An “I don’t know” is always acceptable, but the employee should be able to direct the customer to a co-worker with more nuanced expertise.

Making yourself available to the customer is another oft-cited ingredient in great customer service. Whether that means going the extra mile to help customers find what they’re looking for or responding quickly and apologetically to a complaint, having someone on hand to make that human connection is valuable.

Getting clientele feedback is yet one more frequent item that comes up in suggestions for improving customer service; however, it could be argued that it’s only a half-measure. Gathering feedback is one thing but acting on the feedback is the full step of the process.

Perhaps most importantly, great customer service comes from the top-down. It’s not a concept but a culture that is created and exemplified in the upper offices as well as thoroughly taught, expected and valued in the ranks below.

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