It does not matter what industry or market you are in, at the end of the day your business will be made or lost on how well you deal with your customers.
- A customer is four times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price or product related.
- 96% of unhappy customers don't complain, and 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.
- In most cases, businesses spend way more money trying to get new customers - and literally nothing on looking after the ones they already have.
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 - 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 - 20%.
Recently I was waiting in line at the kids section at one of the major department stores and was enthralled to watch exactly what you should not do - an example of customer service unfolded before my eyes. The cashier was a young girl in her early twenties and this was most likely one of her first jobs. She was serving a woman with kids (their target market) who wanted to charge some clothing items to her store card. Much to the surprise of the customer, the card had declined, and in her disbelief the customer explained to the cashier that money had been put on the card just two days ago. She wanted to know what had happened.
The cashier shrugged her shoulders and explained defiantly that she did not cause the problem or have any idea how to fix it. Her advice was to go and line up at a desk in another part of the store and they might be able to help her if she was lucky - that desk was busy handling other (more important) customers. The cashier made it very clear to this customer that she just didn't care. At this stage the customer was starting to get a little frustrated and after further questioning, the cashier pointed out she could do nothing more and pointed her finger in the general direction of the inquiries department who might know something about it. The customer headed off in the general direction with the parting comment "You have been incredibly unhelpful".
We have all seen this before or been on the receiving end of this type of terrible customer service.
So what is your customer service like?
By comparison a while ago I purchased a Freeview box for my TV from another well known store. I waited quite a short time, however the cashier acknowledged that I was waiting and let me know he would be just a couple of minutes. After serving the previous customer, he apologised to me for the wait and asked how he could help. He was passionate about his store and the products, and knew the answers to every question I had about how Freeview worked and the comparisons to other systems.
He sold me the unit and started explain a complicated system for installation (complicated to me anyway). He could see I was struggling so he offered to pre-tune the box, ready for me to plug in, which would take only seven minutes. Sounded like a great idea to me as it would probably take me two hours and even then it might not be right. (As you can tell, I am great at helping businesses become more profitable but not-so-great at setting up new technology.)
He then went in for the up-sell - "Would you like a warranty with that?". Usually this is not my thing, as I am of the view that if your product will not last the distance then maybe I shouldn't buy it. He could see that I was not convinced, but remember he already had my attention with his impeccable service. So he pulled out a Freeview box that had been pulled apart and showed me how small the parts were and that they are easily damaged through wear and tear or even small knocks. I thought why not, after all he seemed to have my best interests at heart. He got the up-sell and I walked away a happy customer with my purchase.
Did I tell others, absolutely. Will I go back, yes.
So what makes good customer service?
Well, we can take a few clues from my two examples above.
- One knew their products well - the other not a clue.
- One was interested in the customer - the other was not.
- One went out of their way to be helpful - the other went out of their way not to.
- Know about your products and how best to use them?
- Know the procedures on what to do when a customer complains?
- Have a good helpful attitude to your customers?
- Care about your customers and your company?
- Take pride in their workplace?
- Have a list of questions they can ask customers to lead them to the sale?
What does good customer service get you? It gets you repeat business (remember this is a lot easier to get than brand new customers), it gets you more referrals and a good reputation, and ultimately, it gets you a lot more sales. Good customer service equals a whole lot more profit!
Action Point: Listen in on some of your staff and how they are handling your customers. Or even better, ask some of your customers how they find you to deal with. Use these quick questions:
- How do you find our company to deal with?
- What do we do well?
- What do you find frustrating when dealing with us?
- What could we do better?