The Value of Your Customer Service

15 Mar

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Customer service is the epitome of public relations. “[It] is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction – that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer’s expectation.”1 That means when you’re talking on the phone, e-mailing, on social media or in person. I used to work for a company whose principal focus was customer service. We were even required to take in-depth training classes on the subject. Since then, I’ve been trained to notice it. And when I don’t get the service I feel I deserve, I don’t go back. And, let’s face it, it’s just common sense.

Did you know that 68%2 of customers who leave claim it’s because of bad service? No one can afford to lose customers. It is, by far, easier and less expensive to foster relationships with existing customers than to market to new ones. Some companies spend up to 80% of their marketing budget on recruiting new customers while returning customers are notoriously more loyal, purchase 33% more anyway and are 107% more likely to refer business3. Those are amazing odds. And customer service is at the heart of it.

First Impressions
You have one chance to impress a new customer. If they don’t feel they receive the service they should have or are worthy of, you’ll never see them again. The opportunity to convert them into a customer is gone forever. The first impression sets the tone for the whole experience. Here are just a few ways to create an amazing first impression – Trust me, there are thousands of more ways.

  1. Create an atmosphere of congeniality. Smile, introduce yourself, be willing to help and do whatever is necessary to make it a successful visit.
  2. Make note of something they purchase or something about their person and offer a product that will complement that. It’s that personal touch that people remember.
  3. It’s as simple as eye contact and friendly tone. Believe it or not, you can hear a smile over the phone. Think about that the next time your phone rings.
  4. Be willing to make small talk. Don’t hold the customer up, but show that they’re important to you.
  5. Respond within 24 hours. It is not only courteous, it shows that you value their time.
  6. Show them you appreciate them calling/stopping by/e-mailing by thanking them.
  7. Take a proactive approach. Don’t wait until someone asks for your help; offer it up front.
  8. If you don’t know the answer, ensure them that you will find out and get back to them promptly.

The Whole Experience
Customer service is the experience before, during and after the sale. It’s all about nurturing the relationship. The idea is, once you have captured their interest and loyalty, to foster a deeper relationship so that even when a seemingly better offer comes along, they stick around. Never give your customers a reason to leave.

  1. Establish a loyalty program.
  2. Make each customer feel special and appreciated by offering a unique experience. Research their buying history and offer suggestions or promotions based on that.
  3. Exceed expectations by following up after a conversation or sale; offering something unexpected or something you know they can’t get elsewhere; or customized packages/plans.
  4. Encourage regular feedback with the use of feedback cards, online surveys, etc.
  5. Be a good listener. Ask relevant questions and pay attention not only to the answer, but the tone of voice and accompanied body language. Those two things will probably tell you more than the words ever could.
  6. Throw in something extra that will complement their purchase. You don’t even have to think very big here. It’s the gesture that really counts.

This is your opportunity to be creative. There is so much competition today that it pays to be innovative in your approach. Just remember to treat the customer the way you would want to be treated.

Million Dollar Question: How is your customer service affecting your customer base?


Here’s is another related article:Customer Service and Its Place in the Public Relations Mix

1 Turban, Efraim (2002). Electronic Commerce: A Managerial Perspective. Prentice Hall. ISBN 0131854615.
2 –
Small Business Trends
3 – Customer Relationships


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