Customer service is more important now than ever. Yes, it may sound like a cliché, but it’s true. One can’t put a value on the emotions a customer feels from a great service experience. Customer service is so important that product quality alone is no longer the difference maker as customers make a decision.
Social media makes it easier for a brand’s reputation to be tarnished by poor customer service. Social media transforms “word of mouth” from a one-to-one communications method to a one-to-many method. My post on Facebook about bad restaurant service can be seen by my 1,000+ friends instantaneously, likely leading others to post negative experiences about the same establishment. Sure, a business owner or manager can utilize Google Alerts to be notified of when their business is mentioned online, then try to respond. But, isn’t it far more efficient and effective to provide great customer service from the very beginning?
The ease of online shopping reinforces the importance of customer service. I can buy books online, with little effort, at a lower cost than I can at a local bookstore. I continue going to a local bookstore though, on a limited basis, for the experience. Great customer service provides an added value that I am willing to pay for and is what brings me back.
The fallout from poor customer service can be irreparable. Every person has heard of a horror story about a restaurant, getting a driver’s license, or being on the phone with a customer service representative. As a manager, I have often reminded my staff it doesn’t matter how many times we “get it right”; people are more likely to remember and share with others the times we don’t. This philosophy is applicable to all industries. You can hope customers give you a “free pass,” but sometimes a single poor service experience leads to a lost customer.
Consistent top-notch customer service helps build a customer’s emotional connection to a business. In fact, this is the one constant as consumer habits have evolved. As market conditions constantly change, doesn’t it make sense to specialize in something that you can control, such as customer service? I mean, not every business in its product category can offer the lowest price or be perceived as “best-quality,” but the one perceived as providing great customer service has the best chance of attracting and retaining customers.