How to get customer service right
by Peter Switzer
Sure, some say it can be done but it doesn’t sound ideal and many online relationships have ended in tears when the virtual world met the real one.
Earlier this year, American Express surveyed its customers and found 81 per cent thought that businesses took them for granted. Good, old-fashioned service looked to be on death row and Australia tied with the UK as being worst in the world, when it came to satisfaction levels.
Martin Grunstein, one of the local business seminar circuit’s most sought-after speaker on customer service, says the performance of Australian businesses when it comes to customer service “makes Fawlty Towers look like a documentary".
He thinks small businesses have a problem that they lack training and they don’t know how people make decisions.
He scoffs at the old maxim that the customer is always right.
“The customer can be everything from wrong to irritating to whatever,” he told me on my Grow Your Business program on Sky News Business Channel. “The trick is that they walk away from your business thinking they are right.”
This is what determines whether you will have them as customers in the future.
Grunstein says there’s no law saying customers have to be good people but the job is to serve, take the money and make the experience as good as experience as possible.
Another revelation from the survey was that 60 per cent of customers would pay eight per cent more for exceptional customer service. But, of course, it’s not just extra dollars to the revenue top line of a business that results from great service, it’s customer loyalty.
Jay Abraham, a US customer service author and public speaker, has argued in the past that business owners have to look at the lifetime value of a customer and not just the one-off value of a sale.
I recently went to a restaurant that charged extra for using a credit card, it would not split bills, it warned you to check your change, the management reserved the right to refuse service and there were more that escape my memory but they all told me that as a customer — beware.
Word-of-mouth referrals are important
Grunstein says the great businesses have great customer service training programs and made reference to a car company where the salespeople really gave exceptional service.
He pointed to a salesperson who used the technique of talking to customers about what they did, what they liked and what were their interests. It meant when the car was delivered they would have $200 worth of CDs sitting on the passenger seat for when the customer took possession of the car.
That was a cheap investment in referrals and these customers, in a follow workshops, often admitted telling big numbers of people about the great service.
That kind of word-of-mouth referral is often called “priceless” but it was priced — it was $200.
Historically, politicians have been like second-rate businesses. They win us over and then treat us as badly until a year out from the next election. Then they lay on the love and the promises in the weeks of the election campaign.
The best at customer service argue that a business with happy staff generally will be A-graders for customer service.
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Published on: Wednesday, November 24, 2010blog comments powered by Disqus