Careers: Articles - Customer Service Rocks
In all businesses we have four types of customers. First we have our new customers, who we give most of our attention to. Second are our current customers, who we maintain, but don't go out of our way for because we feel that their business is "safe". Third are our past customers, people who no longer do business with us, and fourth are those who are not our customers yet.
Let's focus on the third type of customers - those who have gone away. In 1995, the federal government carried out a research program and found out why customers quit doing business with a company. The research discovered that 3% move away, 5% develop friendships or business alliances with other companies, 9% go out of business because of their competition, and 14% leave because of quality. The other 68% stop doing business with you because they don't like the way they are treated. That's a huge number based something that is really unfortunate, but controllable.
Even more profound is the fact that in a typical company, you only hear from 5% of your dissatisfied customers, the other 95% just quietly go away and never come back. Poor customer service is an attitude of not caring. It's so easy to be nice to people, to deal with their issues in a positive manner, and we don't do it. The other thing you have to remember is 8 out of 10 of those people who go away will bad mouth you. They will tell somewhere between 25 and 250 people that they had a problem with your company and they will actually enjoy saying that. It's your job to keep that from happening.
Understanding the difference between a customer and a client may be helpful to your company in changing your focus to one that is customer-centered. A customer is someone who buys a product or service from you. A client is someone who is under your care. If your customer service team is trained to work in this dynamic, the whole company will benefit because the energy is contagious.
It is important to remember that 7 out of 10 customers who have had a problem and are considering going elsewhere will do business with you again if you can resolve the problem in their favor. Which is one of the reasons why I always say that if they've got a problem with you, we have to give them a little something extra. With me, it's free CD or audio-tape, with you, it could be a free service of some kind or a sample of a new product (which will also promote sales) or a little extra of what they normally order. The average business spends 6 times more to attract a new client then to retain an old one, so it's great business to keep your client, no matter what you have to do.
Train your customer service professionals to understand that it's important they know that their job is a responsible position. Begin by asking them what their idea of great customer service is. The answers will help you see where additional training is necessary and also help you clarify if you have the right people in this position.
Perhaps the most important thing you can teach customer service professionals is for them to be 100% focused on the person they are talking to. Almost anyone can tell when the person they are talking to is not focused on the conversation, so it is important that you train your customer service team in appropriate communication skills. These skills include telephone techniques, listening skills and little psychology.
For more extensive training you may have to bring in a professional or train a trainer in these areas. If you would like some additional information, please send an e-mail to Wendy@BartonGoldsmith.com with the words "customer service" in the subject box and we will send you a very helpful article.
Don't wait for customers to leave before you've done everything you can to keep them. Creating a culture of "Passionate Customer Service" is a methodology that will result in a better atmosphere at the workplace as well as a better bottom line.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D.
For more than two decades Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, and government organizations worldwide have relied on Dr. Barton Goldsmith to help them develop creative and balanced leadership. He is a highly sought-after keynote speaker, business consultant and nationally syndicated author. His columns appear in over 150 publications, including the Los Angeles Business Journal. Dr. Goldsmith works regularly with The Young President¹s Organization (YPO) and The Executive Committee (TEC). Considered an expert on small business, he has spoken worldwide to groups of 10 to 5,000, and is in high demand for Keynotes, Training and Consulting. He may be contacted through his web site BartonGoldsmith.com or at (818) 879-9996.