Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Business Lessons – a few thoughts on Customer Service

This is almost a lost art – Service the customer. In a service business this is truly how you make money and yet so many forget that in a product business if it is how you make money and keep customers. 

What is customer service – simply it is seeing what the customer needs and then dedicating yourself and/or your business to meeting and/or exceeding that need.  Worded differently it is having a customer (not self or business) centered approach. Currently our culture teaches self comes first service/others second. The notion of putting others first in order to have your needs meant is almost a foreign concept. Take advantage of and exploit others is the rule of the day because this is truely the quickest way to get ahead short term. A classic example of this is the wall street case on trial where the individual basically stole $50 billion from people he even called friends. 

To perform customer service well requires two qualities – a sense of confidence in self and job and a desire to help others. So what can customer service get you as a business – a loyal customer who appreciates the value you bring and added service they receive with the purchase of their product or services. Additionally it requires competence and an informed knowledge of and about your product or service. 

  • Customer service is not – listening to what a person say and then using their weakness to exploit them by selling them something that is more expensive that they do not need in order to get over on them leaving them with buyers regret 
  • Customer service is – listening to what the customer wants and then using that information to anticipate their needs both present and future and offering a product or a solution which is cost effective solution. 

So often people forget that we are paid to solve problems real or perceived. Let me give you an example of poor customer service using a real world example - there is a company whose sells internet appliances that states clearly on their site they do not offer technical support. How can you sell something and not be willing to answer questions about it? How can you take a person's money and say - know what I have no further obligation to you - call someone else who cares? I will not place the name of the company but I will post a direct quote from their website:

"XYZ (a real company) does not provide Technical Support for the items listed below via chat, email or telephone. Please contact the manufacturer of the equipment or work with your network administrator for assistance on these issues.

  • VPN access or technical support
  • VoIP / Video conferencing
  • Remote Access applications
  • Gaming system set-up or configuration
  • Online gaming"

So if XYZ is the manufacturer of the equipment what is the message?

Here are the questions:

  • Is customer/client satisfaction a part of your customer value proposition?
  • Without customer/client satisfaction how long can a business prosper, thrive and grow?

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