Does great customer service matter?

“Of course! If I didn’t give my customers great service, then my customers would leave for a competitor” (which we know is is not a good outcome)

True, but let me phrase the question differently: What does it take to keep your customers coming back?

Before you answer, did you ask? Yes, customers typically love great service, but here’s the most important thing to remember:

Customers became your customers for a reason (or several). If you do a great job at a bunch of things, but not that (or those) thing(s), you will lose your customer.

Yes, it’s that simple.

Let me give you an example: I used to have DSL Internet service in my home (which gives you an idea of how long ago this was), and was more than a bit suspicious of cable-Internet. When I signed up, the DSL was the fastest connection available. And, my DSL provider was fantastic (shockingly) at customer service. Every time I called, I got an actual person. I wasn’t transferred around, the person who answered my call did the research and talked to colleagues for me. He/she was nice, friendly and often offered credits for past poor service.

But….I needed a fast connection (when I signed up, they were the fastest available). And in the months preceding my change, my DSL provider’s speeds had slowed dramatically and a connection that hadn’t dropped in six years (you read that correctly!) was suddenly dropping several times every day.

The best efforts of several customer service reps, technicians, and even the people they sent to my home (for free!) could not resolve the issue.

They offered me credit; they offered me free add-on services; they made so many enticing offers that I was tempted to live with the unreliable, slow service. But in the end, I switched. I needed fast service.

My new provider has horrible customer service. An actual person never answers the phone, and when I get a person they are always rude and unhelpful, it usually takes five, six or seven people just to get a simple answer. But my connection is fast and almost never drops (three times in five years).

If you don’t believe me, take a look at two very well known examples of poor customer service. Whenever people bring up bad customer service stories, the examples they rely on are typically cable television companies and airlines. In my area, that means Comcast and United (I pick on them a lot). Think about it: Do you fly one airline all the time? If so, are you getting great customer service? If not, why do you keep going back? (If I had to guess, it’s schedule convenience, fares or frequent flier points — not customer service!)

This may not be how your business works, but if your business depends on repeat customers, you have no choice but to ask: “Why did my customers buy from me in the first place, and what will keep them coming back?”

Then invest your customer retention budget right there.

So, yes, if customer service matters to your customer, make it great. But always be sure you know — and are serving — your customer’s needs.

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