Customer service is a topic that eventually finds its way into practically every dialogue about business at one point or another. Business school professors expound on the importance of it. Writers of blogs, columns and broadcasts wax poetic about it. Executives ponder over how to improve it. Customers complain when they don’t get it. It is a quintessential concern of any good business. It is also the failing of many businesses, new and old. Good customer service, it seems, is a moving target that many businesses fail to hit at one point or another. Tales of consistently great customer service are almost as unbelievable as stories about the Tooth Fairy, leaving many to wonder if being able to provide great customer service consistently is really only a fairytale.
Why is it so hard to deliver great customer service consistently? The reason is because customer service is actually much more than the exchange that happens between a customer and the business right at the point of sale. Customer service is inherently a part of every interaction between the customer and the brand from initial interaction until well after the sale is completed and the product or service is delivered. Customer service is part and parcel of the product or service, not just the interactions between customer and company. It is the responsibility of every employee in every department, from research and development to marketing and from manufacturing or operations to accounting.
One needn’t look very hard to find examples in the media of customer service gone terribly awry. But there are many organizations that do have a handle on good customer service. They have identified the one thing that matters most and focused on getting that single thing right. Continue reading
Customers do not like to wait. The golden rule in business is that customers should be helped right away. We’re not talking about a manufacturer making a customer wait for the release of a new product or model… which can actually increase brand value by creating excitement and buzz. Instead, we are referring to the time a customer actually waits to be assisted with whatever they need from the business. At an office, a client that is made to wait more than 10 minutes for a scheduled appointment will be irate. At a store, a customer who sees a long line to pay might drop their purchases and leave. At a restaurant, a waiter is expected to welcome patrons within a few minutes of being seated.
Timeliness is directly related to customer satisfaction and customer repeat business. Wait time has an effect on customers that is similar to the effect of price. In fact, many economists view wait time as a form of price. Customers are aware of the price demanded in both money and time and adjust their behavior accordingly.
Clearly, response time matters when servicing a customer in person, but what about on the World Wide Web? Does a company’s response time online matter? For example, does the speed in which a company replies to a customer’s inquiry or request online (speed-to-call rate) really impact whether the ‘lead’ converts to a sale? If you answered yes, you’re absolutely right. However, the extent to which response time impacts online lead conversation may be surprising. Continue reading
Joining and Participating in LinkedIn Groups You’ve joined LinkedIn, created an impressive Profile and linked to all of your colleagues, coworkers past and present, schoolmates and associates. Is that enough? No. While that was a lot of work, that work … Continue reading