Small business owners will do well to understand the Customer Service Paradox:
Great customer service will not help sell a product or service that nobody wants, but bad customer service will ensure customers won’t buy something they do want.
What makes the Paradox true? In simplest terms, good or even great customer service is not enough to sustain customers, but it can be the single issue that drives customers away. The challenge for small business owners is that they want to use customer service as a competitive advantage. Small business owners may rely on customer service as the unique selling proposition that spurs their marketing efforts when really, great customer service is a basic expectation that all customers have.
At its core, customer service is the activities that enhance overall customer satisfaction with a customer’s or client’s experience with your organization. You will notice that it is not just the purchasing experience, but the total experience with your organization. When you think of all the ways customers may interact with your organization, you will see that this can become significantly complicated.
The obvious place to strengthen your customer service efforts are with your staff – all staff. Your sales or customer service reps are not the only contact your organization has with actual and potential clients. Make sure to communicate your customer service goals to everyone within your organization. Convey the idea that excellent customer service is an integral part of every employee’s job description.
In today’s virtual world, many of your customers may never pick up the phone or talk with someone face to face. Every access to your company is an opportunity to exceed your customers’ expectations. Is your website easily understood? Can your customers find the information they want or find a contact person if they have questions. Do your employees respond well with e-mail?
If you ask people to share an example of customer service, good or bad, ten to one they go to the bad. Customers love to share their horror stories of “what went wrong!” Again, customers have an expectation that they will be treated well, that they will be able to find what they need, and that they will have questions answered. If they cannot get this basic customer need met, they will find a company who can deliver.
The Customer Service Paradox transcends all industries and sectors, large and small companies alike. Customers enforce it every day. While customer service isn’t enough to drive customers to your company on its own merit, remember that it does have the strength to keep them from returning.