Is customer service a priority for your organization? Even though your company may have hundreds or thousands of customers, some large and some small, each deserves to be treated as your sole customer. In all too many companies, however, no customer is treated as special. Why do companies make it so difficult to do business with them? Why do offices look drab and dirty? Why are e-mails filled with typos and promises broken with regularity? Why are customers ignored and treated as inconveniences? Why are employees indifferent, careless, and sometimes even rude? Why aren’t employees well trained? Why don’t they know their own products so they’re able to answer the most basic customer questions? When problems surface, why are customers passed around the office like hot potatoes? And why do employees so often think: “I know it all and you know nothing,” “It’s not my job,” or “I’m right; you’re wrong.” And then, they say customer service is a priority.
This attitude has become all too pervasive in business. According to a Bloomberg Businessweek article, “They have taken away your pillows, your peanuts, and your dignity. You have been sitting on the runway for three hours. The stale, cold air is giving you a headache, but you can’t ask for a blanket, or even a bottle of whiskey, because they’ve taken those away, too. You look desperately to the flight attendant, one of the nods to service that hasn’t yet been removed from the airplane, but somebody apparently hauled off his work ethic. You’re met simply with a blank, soul-crushing stare.”
The impact of these low levels of service is staggering. One reason this issue is often neglected is that today’s metrics do not accurately reflect the true costs and benefits of customer relationships. For example, accounting practices ignore cash flows over the lifetime of a customer relationship. In fact, according to the book “The Costs of Poor Quality Are Higher Than You Think,” it is easier and five times cheaper to keep an existing customer than to recruit a new one.
As a result of short-term thinking, many people view a sales transaction as an isolated event, rather than as a lifelong relationship with a customer; they believe that if a transaction is handled poorly, the cost is the loss of a single sale. Wrong! Make customer service a priority, today.