The BEST Customer Service? Really?

What are businesses saying about customer service?  Following are excerpts from several websites:

 We strive to provide our customers with the best customer service experience possible.

 We are committed to providing the highest quality products and services to our customers, in fact, we guarantee it.

 We can provide excellent service for you when you need it.

 We are on call 24/7, we love our customerswe provide the best service, and we are priced right.

 We will always go above and beyond to provide you with the best customer service possible

 We have developed the know-how to provide the best service for our clients.

 Simply stated, we provide the customer with the absolute best service possible.

 We look forward to providing you our best service.

 We insist to provide the best service.

 We are committed to provide unparalleled customer service and support.

 We believe that we provide the best service to our clients…

Most businesses state they will provide or will strive to provide you with the BEST customer service.  Many more examples could have been provided.  But, the ones used amply illustrate how repetitive and worn-out the phrases have become.

Nearly everyone is saying the same thing, nothing stands out or even rings true given what most customer service experiences are like these days.  Very few customer service experiences reach the level of being good to say nothing of being considered the best service you can hope to receive.

We all know the Golden Rule of customer service: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It seems so simple.  So, where do things go horribly wrong?

First off, if the business itself is the only one stating that they provide the best service, that signals a problem.  There is nothing like reviews from satisfied customers and testimonials to reinforce that a business really does do the best for its customers.  For a business to just be saying it does not make it so.

Second, many businesses need to pull their collective heads out of the sand in order to recognize and admit that perhaps their customer service experience sucks.

I had first thought of providing a list of suggestions for providing a great customer service experience.  However, highlighting best practices seems to be an ineffective way to seek to improve this problem.  There are tons of those lists out there, yet poor customer  service experiences persist.

Here’s an alternative approach courtesy of Help Scout blog.

5 Warning Signs That Your Customer Service Truly Sucks  By: Gregory Ciotti

1. You Don’t View Customer Service as a Marketing Channel

FACT: 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience.

I’m not going to be one of those guys who hastily declares that “marketing is dead”, but I will be the first to say that customer care can easily be your #1 marketing channel.

Fact of the matter is, your customers can do quite a few things much better than you can, and if your business isn’t embracing this fact by viewing customer service as a branch of your marketing department with tremendous ROI, you’re doing yourself a disservice, as well as your customers.

Companies like Zappos were able to quadruple their sales by focusing on word of mouth exposure that was created by their reputation for having outstanding customer service.

This seems to be a universally positive metric for all companies, big and small: 81% of companies with strong capabilities and competencies for delivering an excellent customer experience are outperforming their competition.

Is your customer experience as enjoyable as your competitors?

If it isn’t, you’re definitely losing customers, even if you market extensively and offer a superior product.

2. You Think Few Complaints = Great Service

FACT: The average business hears from only 4% of its dissatisfied customers.

Very few people have time for your mistakes. Even fewer people are going to take the time to let you know about them, and why should they? You’re the one that messed up, they’ve got things to do.

That means you are only going to hear from a fraction of your dissatisfied customers.

Look, every business owner understands that they have a wide variety of customers, and you’re not going to be able to please all of them (some just aren’t right for your offer).

That shouldn’t stop you from constantly seeking ways to improve your service. This is something that is simply impossible to do without candid customer feedback, and if you’re relying on dissatisfied customers only to get your intel, you’re going to run into some serious problems.

Using generic surveys isn’t enough: be sure that you go out of your way to createincentive for customers to give their feedback, make your surveys interesting so that they don’t get immediately acquainted with the “Move to Trash” button, and always be sure to include open-ended questions so customers can give you their most genuine “off the cuff” feedback.

3. You Think Customer Acquisition > Customer Retention

FACT: It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.

No one would tell you that customer acquisition isn’t important. After all, it’s going to be a hard fought battle creating loyal customers if you don’t have any customers in the first place!

Despite this fact, you have to understand that bad customer service is more than just a potential liability, it’s a huge cost to your business.

Consumers are far more likely to share bad customer experiences due to their frustration.

If you also take into effect that 86% of consumers will immediately quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience, you’re left with a single, undeniable truth: customer acquisition isn’t going to work without customer retention.

It doesn’t matter how many buyers your small business acquires if you’re “leaking” loyal customers left and right due to your poor service.

4. You Think “Speed” is the Most Important Factor of Customer Service

FACT: 73% of dissatisfied customers cited incompetent, rude, and “rushed” service as the #1 reason why they abandoned a brand.

Get em’ in and out, right?

Turns out, no. As they say, “speed kills”, and when it comes to customer service, your customers care far more about competent and helpful service than they do about “quick” service.

Customers cited “slow” service nearly 20% less than incompetent service in their feedback of why they stopped doing business with a particular brand, and that was only when the service was truly slow.

A very relevant example of this fact in action is how Derek Sivers used to conduct customer service over at CDBaby (he’s since sold it for $22 million).

According to Derek:

“I used to request all my employees to intentionally take a little longer on customers calls.

I would ask them to pull up customers albums and catalogues; have a look at their pictures and gears – to learn a bit about them.

Imagine how powerful it is for a customer to know that he is listening to somebody who is a musician that gets him, than something like, ‘Thank you customer 4325. How may I quickly handle your problem?'”

Don’t rush customers out of your support line, many customers welcome some additional time spent if you ensure them that you value their time and their business with you.

5. You’re Reading This Right Now and Think You Don’t Have to Worry!

FACT: 80% of companies say they deliver superior customer service. 8% of people think these same companies deliver superior customer service.

Uh-oh, I might have hurt some feelings with this one!

Actually, my point is far less antagonistic than the headline, because the bottom line is that you shouldn’t be guessing when it comes to evaluating your customer service.

Decide what metrics are critical to measuring customer satisfaction. Don’t just go with your gut; prove that you provide great service with data.

Don’t hesitate to gather and analyze different metrics and feedback to measure your success and shortcomings.

Are you consistently trying to get candid feedback from your customers? Do you closely analyze your customer loyalty programs in hopes of improving them? Do you take advantage of proven research in social psychology when implementing your engagement strategies?

You should be.

This information is out there for you to gather and use (oh yeah, and implement!), and believe me, it’s much more consistent than what your “gut” tells you.

To view the original version of this article by Gregory Ciotti:

How does your business stack up?  Are you saying you provide the best customer service and then hoping it’s so?