needed a new machine for your business. You shopped for the best value.
You budgeted for the cost. You ordered the machine so it would be at your
workplace in time for your big project. You scheduled someone to be on
site to receive the machine and get it installed. You did your part.
Then, when the machine arrived, it was missing a crucial part. You
immediately do what you are supposed to do when there is a problem: you
call the company's customer service number. You are told, "Yes. We are so
sorry about that, but we aren't expecting that part in for another 2
weeks. We ran out of those parts, but wanted you to have the rest of the
machine for now. As soon as we get that crucial part in we will ship it to
you immediately." Everyone is very polite and empathetic, but you didn't
want polite and empathetic customer service, you wanted your new machine
so you could run your business.
Reactive Customer Service
One way to ensure customers are raving, not ranting, about you is to
redefine the old, commonly accepted meaning of customer service. The
outdated definition of customer service is resolving a customer's problem
AFTER the sale. We tell customers our response time to their problem is
faster than the other guys, we hire a customer service department to take
their problem calls, and we provide liberal return policies when they are
disappointed with their purchase. To some companies, problems are just
part of the process, so they create a mechanism to react to complaints.
Proactive Customer Service
Today, businesses can't afford more problems to fix. Margins are too
tight, and problems cost too much. Problems erode valuable time,
resources, reputation, and cash. Rather than paying to fix mistakes and
problems, invest in preventing problems. Customer service is something
that should be happening behind the scenes, before a customer orders from
Customer service isn't a phone number. It is component of your business
Customer service should be an exercise of constantly refining your
business process so that customers never experience a problem. It should
also be the act of studying your business and industry to such a degree,
that you can anticipate even the oddest problems and take action to
eliminate it before the sale. The icing on the customer service cake would
be that you did something better than their expectations. "Customer
service" should not be a phone number customers use to file complaints.
Customer service is understanding your customers.
Take the time to truly understand what is important to your most valuable
customers. Don't assume you know what is important to your customer;
there's a great chance it is much different from what is important to you.
Study, learn, ask questions, and then anticipate what their problems will
be. Create solutions and quality controls within your business that
aggressively seek out those problems and eliminate them long before they
become your customer's headache or disappointment with you.
Customer service creates a bonus more valuable than money. It saves
Do you value your time? You can bet your paying customer does. Today, time
is a commodity and often has more value to customers than money. Imagine
how you would feel if someone took the cash out of your wallet and set it
all on fire. Customers double that intense feeling when it comes to their
time. Deliver a problem free service or product to your customer and you
are giving them a bonus of time. Time they didn't have to spend fixing a
problem, calling you, exchanging an item, demanding a discount, or
canceling a sale. It could be time they spend telling their neighbor about
the excellent service you provide to your customers.