Excellent customer service is a competitive advantage for an organization. Companies and researchers spend a lot of time and money on developing strategies for improving customer service (a search for “customer service” returns over 2,000 titles on the Amazon Kindle Store).
At Anant Corporation, we recognize the importance of providing excellent service to our clients and strive to provide the best customer service possible. In order to evaluate our efforts, we’re implementing a customer service feedback program that will help us identify what we’re doing right and where we need to improve.
We wanted to share the thought process that’s gone on behind our customer service initiative publicly in the interest of improving customer service everywhere. Everyone’s had a terrible experience with that airline representative on the phone, or that grumpy rep at the DMV. The best place to start is with a question:
Why care about customer service?
Great customer service is a deliverable. It has economic value. Great customer service can set a company apart from the rest. Check out this great Financial Times blog entitled “The competitive advantage of customer service.”
Every business needs customers in order to succeed, but not every business successfully implements CRM strategies. If company X and company Y offer the same product for the same price, but company X is known for its better customer service, it is likely to have higher sales and greater market share than company Y. It would therefore be logical for all companies to place a high value on customer service to help drive profits. Why then, are we seeing such discrepancies between different companies’ CRM initiatives?
Bad customer service, on the other hand, can ruin a company and its reputation. Think about the companies and organizations that you respect the most. How many of them have terrible customer service?
Now think about the companies and organizations that make your skin crawl – the places you actively tell your friends to avoid.
How many of them offer great customer service?
When two companies offer very similar products, which one would you most likely conduct a transaction with – the one with crappy customer service or the one with excellent customer service? In an age where tech products like smartphones look more and more similar with every new generation and iteration (c’mon – the Samsung Galaxy II and Galaxy III look practically identical, right?) sometimes a company’s service is the only thing that it has to differentiate it from competitors, and to gain mindshare amongst its target customer base.
Summary: Terrible customer service sets a company apart – in a bad way. Excellent customer services puts a company head and shoulders above the rest. Great customer service is a comparative advantage.
How do we deliver great customer service?
We change our culture. We focus on improving the client experience. We don’t lose our identity and what we do, but we do start developing a customer service mentality. Ask ourselves: how can we do things differently so that our clients know that we appreciate them and that they’re important to us? Small, simple changes is what it will take. Thank a client for their business with a face-to-face meeting, phone call or a card – not just an email. Touch base regularly with a client. Schedule meetings with them directly. Offer to go to their offices. Small things.
Don’t think small things matter? Walk a mile with a pebble in your shoe. It’s terribly painful.
Remove the pebble and the experience is completely different.
Summary: Make small changes to have big impacts.
Where do we begin?
We begin this improvement process by identifying the key attributes of excellent customer service. Keep an eye out for our next post explaining what we are doing to measure our ability to deliver excellent customer service.