Developing outstanding customer service is doable for any size business – so why is it not happening?
As a business coach I talk to a wide range of business leaders, owners and entrepreneurs. They all talk about the importance of customer service to their organization.
Yadda yadda yadda. Frankly, if all the people walked the talk surrounding customer service today, the consumer would be looking at businesses a whole different way.
If you were to generalize and say “who gets it”, my vote would be the micro or small business owner. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the bottom line is that each and every customer has a significant
impact on their business and the business owner understands and appreciates that fact. As business grows, the owner loses that connection and it “appears” that losing an individual customer (unless it’s a big one) just doesn’t have the same impact.
Yet losing any customers should not be acceptable. Statistics show it will cost your business about 5 times more to replace that customer than to retain the original. Studies also show long term clients are less hassle and spend more. Why would it be ok to let them go?
So why do companies not have (or lose) that focus on providing Outstanding Customer Service?
The first reason that infests organizations is the DESS Syndrome. DESS stands for that Darned Excel Spreadsheet. Managers are accountable today, whether executive or front line based on their “numbers”. You will raise or fall, be promoted or let go, receive bonuses, raises, etc. all based on how your numbers look on the DESS. Sure it’s a bit more complicated, but honestly not much.
The Customer Service challenge stems from the fact that bad or even just ok Customer Service problems don’t easily appear on any spreadsheet. They are there, but you have to dig and evaluate the numbers. Things like refunds, customer retention, problems with bill collecting, and so on are in the numbers, but not directly tied toward. And since it’s difficult to look at those numbers, it becomes difficult to maintain the focus.
The second reason we have problems Developing Outstanding Customer Service is how we DO evaluate it which is the customer satisfaction surveys. Most studies show that surveys that ask for Very Dissatisfied/Dissatisfied/Neutral/Satisfied/Very Satisfied replies average in the Satisfied, maybe slightly higher range.
But honestly, what truly happened when you said you were Satisfied with service? Think about how you feel if you were satisfied with the service. It’s not much. We usually think that meant the service was okay or honestly that we were satisfied because while they didn’t do anything memorable, they didn’t screw up either! And that’s our standard? Companies revel in their customer satisfaction scores! Yet, if everyone is saying that basically the business was just ok, what does that mean? What it doesn’t mean any particular loyalty. What it doesn’t mean is when it’s time to order again, that they will return to you. The bottom line is that striving for customer satisfaction sets a pretty low bar for any business.
The third reason businesses have difficulty providing Outstanding Customer Service is that it has a tendency of being the “flavor of the month”. Usually something happens to draw everyone’s attention. Speeches are made, consultants may be hired, a workshop is held to emphasize the importance of Customer Service for the organization.
And then the band stops playing, the consultants go home, the managers move on to the next “flavor of the month”. While customer service needs to be a consistent focus, companies don’t focus on it consistently!
So what needs to be done to having an organization committed to Developing Outstanding Customer Service?
Resolving reason 3 is the first thing that needs to be done. The intelligent business has to understand that Developing Outstanding Customer Service needs to be a core value of their business. A core value that is consistently identified, understood and achieved from the absolute top level of the organization throughout the organization. It is more than slogans on the wall and words in the marketing brochure. It is not the responsibility of just the people in front of customers, it is everyone’s responsibility.
The next thing for an organization is to create a real measurable way to judge your performance. A great way of looking at the customer is a book by Red Reichheld called The Ultimate Question showing a viable way to categorize and measure your customers and your performance.
Customer Service is probably the oddest business challenges out there today. Everybody knows good service (and bad) when they see it, yet poor or mediocre service is epidemic. Everybody knows the costs of losing or non-returning customers, yet the money most businesses spend on bettering customer service is incredibly small. It is the single largest marketing phrase (we believe in customer service!), yet it rarely comes true.
Developing Outstanding Customer Service is doable for any size business. You just need to look at industry leaders and see that happening. But it is an awareness, an understanding and a commitment that needs to be made every single day, from every single employee of your organization.
About the Author
Terry Bass, of Chadons Resources is a business coach supporting businesses that wish to reach a higher level of success. Terry is the founder of the DOCS 4 Program, which stands for “Developing Outstanding Customer Service for” which brings real world customer service solutions to anyones business.