The Importance of Customer Service
One of THE most important elements in any company is customer service. Why? Your customers are the biggest advocates of your company and can literally make or break you. Word of Mouth (WOM) Marketing is the oldest form of marketing and still one of he most prevalent today. People trust their family, friends and network to suggest or warn against places, products and services. Just look at the rise in influencer marketing. Brands pay good money, or supply products, for influencers to promote their goods/services to a legion of loyal followers in the hope and likelihood that the followers will then purchase those goods/services.
However, if a company has bad customer service, this can have a negative impact on the company as a whole.
Besides, no one needs to be paid to share a negative review.
Recently, I contacted shoe company Ziera about a pair of sandals I had bought back in February. It’s now November.
I love these shoes. They’re comfortable, sensible and cute enough to wear to work or out for lunch. Unfortunately, when I packed them in my suitcase to take them to Melbourne earlier this year, they were stained in a line that looked like the sole of the shoe had transferred to the cream patent leather upper.
Now, a sensible person probably would have contacted the company straight away, however I thought “it can’t be that bad” and kept wearing them anyway. Safe to say, they got worse each time I packed them and the soles touched the upper.
So, that brings us to now. I contacted the company a few weeks ago and after going through some possible cleaning solutions (which I had already tried), they looked me up in the system and said “Sorry, you purchased in February, there’s nothing we can do”.
It’s at this point that the customer experience can go two common ways:
The customer gets angry, makes demands, a negative and potentially aggressive conversation follows with a likely negative resolution.
The customer remains calm, shows additional proof, makes suggestions (aka gentle demands), a reasonable conversation follows with a positive resolution.
In both these two instances, it is important for the customer service operative to respond positively to the customer, no matter how the customer is acting. However, customers also need to take some level of responsibility as if they are being unreasonable, it is unlikely that they will get their way. It is during these crucial conversations that customer service training is vital. When a company has a well trained and rehearsed team, it is unlikely that scenario 1 will occur.
In my example, I took a photo of my shoes, sent it through to the person I had been liaising with, she forwarded it to their technical team and then informed me to return the shoes to my local store and I would receive a replacement! Safe to say, I’m thrilled and very happy with Ziera's level of customer service and care. Instead of the customer service operative shutting down the situation and telling me there was nothing they could do, she sought cleaning advice from the team, then additional technical information when it was needed.
What this simple scenario shows is that by having good customer service, your brand is favourably represented.
Each and every member of your team and each touchpoint that a customer reaches is a representation of your company and a chance to show your personality, care and dedication to your customers.
On the other hand, situations can go badly and customers can be left with a poor taste in their mouth.
There was a small local grocer down the street from our apartment that I had visited once and had a bad experience at. It was nothing major, the shop owners were just quite rude to me. I decided not to go back but I didn’t forget that initial experience. About 12-18 months later, I thought that it can’t have been that bad the first time, so I visited the store again. Once again, the owners were rude to me. I found it very strange (and foolish) that a business whose only interaction with customers is face-to-face chose not to value customer service. After two failed attempts, I wasn’t going to return for a third visit.
In this instance, or other negative instances, when a company has proven to not value customer service and customer experience, the actions of the customer are unlikely to be favourable. Instead, they are likely to share their negative experience, possibly write a bad review, and encourage their network not to do business with the offender.
In today’s day and age, there are so many opportunities for companies to display excellent customer service. In person, online via the website, chat and social channels, over the phone or via email. These are all avenues where a company can showcase how much they care about their customers. Because customer service is such a critical consideration for companies, make sure your teams are well trained and have set processes and procedures in place. Of course people have bad days, we’re only human, however this should never be brought into the workplace.
You want your company to make a lasting impression on your customers, just make sure it’s a for the right reasons.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.