Why great customer service matters now more than ever.
It’s easy to think of customer service as just another basic logistical process in your company—just like engineering, sales or marketing.
All of these things are important for success, but the mistake many companies make is not realizing that great customer service is of the utmost importance when it comes to growing your business.
We all say that we want our customer service to be “good;” however, “good” is basically just “not bad”—and that’s not enough.
Because your business lies in your customers’ hands.
These days, it doesn’t matter what business you are in—chances are you face a lot of competition. When there’s only a few options to put yourself ahead of that competition, everything matters.
And customer service matters most.
It’s often the only direct contact a customer has with your company—and those limited interactions can make or break your relationship with the people most vital to your success.
Today, we’re going to talk about the key benefits that come with putting in the effort to make your customer service truly great.
Great Customer Service Builds Loyalty
There was a time when offering a good product at a decent price was enough to set a company apart from the competition—that is, if you even had competition.
Nowadays, in many cases—but especially if you’re selling SaaS—you’re selling a commodity.
If you’re selling a commodity, you need to make yourself stand out. In addition to a great product at an affordable price, the consumer requires excellent customer service and nothing less.
What happens if you don’t offer that one massively differentiating thing? Well, your customers (all of them) have a choice:
They can choose to do nothing at all.
They can choose to do business with you.
Or they can choose one of your competitors.
These days, people will only stay loyal to a company if they have very good reason to. The price point is usually the first thing companies think about when it comes to comparing themselves to competitors.
However, competing solely on price is a great way to kill your margins and put your business at risk. A larger competitor can easily drop their prices lower than yours—and when there is a race to the bottom, nobody wins.
If you and a competitor have the same product at roughly the same price, the only differentiating factor between you is how good your customer service is.
If yours is less-than-amazing, or even just slightly subpar compared to someone else’s… well, good luck standing out.
Which is why you need to work hard to provide the best in customer service.
That one added delightful aspect of your company will increase trust and could mean the difference between customer loyalty and customers who leave.
Better Customer Service = More Money
Every company is—on a basic level—out to make money. No business can survive without it.
Customer experience is the easiest win you can get that will instantly set you apart from your competitors and let you charge higher prices. It matters more than price.
Not convinced? There are numbers to back it up.
In Oracle’s 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report, the company cites research that found that 86% of customers will pay more for a better customer experience.
It’s not a fluke; American Express found a similar result in their 2011 Customer Service Survey, with 70% of Americans willing to spend an average of 13% more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service.
And it’s not only about more money that comes with amazing customer service—it’s about actually losing money if you leave that part of your business without enough attention.
As reported by Smart Customer Service, U.S. brands are losing approximately $41 billion each year due to poor customer service.
In other words, if you’re not providing satisfactory service to your customers, you’re ultimately losing a ton of money. If you are, your assets will increase.
Great Customer Service = Great Publicity
Happy customers are a lot more likely to tell their friends—on average, happy customers tell nine people about their experiences with a company.
There’s a dark side of the moon here, too.
Because while happy customers might tell nine friends, unhappy customers, on average, tell sixteen.
That’s sixteen “anti-referrals” for every upset customer.
That’s a big price to pay for a bad customer experience.
Putting customer service first means you can make sure that a lot of these less-than-great interactions don’t even end up happening in the first place.
On the other side, amazing customer service can be an awesome, natural source of promotion your company.
If you want referrals through word of mouth and great online reviews, focus on making your customers happy. As research shows, the reward can be exponential.
A Great Service Culture Prevents Employee Turnover
Wait, what? What does this have to do with good customer service and how bad service can cost you your entire business?
Most employees, including front-line service employees, want to take pride in what they do, and need to feel like their field of work and position in the company’s bottom line is valued.
They would thrive best in a company where there’s an established customer service culture that everyone cares about.
Shep Hyken, one of the main opinion leaders in the customer service area, sums it up nicely:
The reason an organization can deliver good or bad customer service comes down to one thing; what is happening on the inside of that organization. To sum it up in one word: culture.
The thing about customer service culture is that if you don’t cultivate it, it’ll affect your customers as well as the employees who are working their asses off on the front line.
If your customer service reps aren’t happy because you don’t care about the quality of service across the whole company, they’ll be less passionate about their job, making the customer’s experience even worse.
And eventually… they’ll quit.
Creating a positive, customer-focused environment along with a strongly established customer service culture across your entire team is key.
If your service levels are up to par, your hires will stick around.
Customer Service Helps You Improve
Through your support, your customers are constantly actively telling you how they want your product to work or where you could improve. The real issues, requests, and feedback. Straight from the horse’s mouth.
Unfortunately, it’s not always taken as seriously as it should be. It’s a problem a lot of companies deal with: teams that are removed from the front lines of support don’t take customer feedback seriously until things get bad.
However, working actively to get your team to start seeing customer feedback as the awesome, straight-forward resource that it is as well as actually acting on it starts with building a company culture that embraces and values all customer feedback.
The more your customers learn to trust that you take their feedback seriously and actually act on it, the more they will open up to you about what they like, don’t like or need. And the less likely they will be to leave you for a competitor that doesn’t care as much.
You can turn every bit of that feedback into data-driven product improvements. That’s an amazing resource right at your fingertips—don’t let it go unused.
Put Customer Service First To Keep Your Business Growing
We all know implementing customer service best practices and building a strong culture around it is hard work, but it needs to be done.
If you want to truly stand out—and earn the right to command higher prices than your competition and keep people with you-you need to compete with customer experience before anything else.
Make your customers love not only your product but the act of doing business with you.
Everyone out there is striving to provide good customer service. Make yours outstanding, and you’ll notice the benefits of it in no time.