Is Your Customer Service Terrible?

“Trust: The reputation of a thousand years may be undermined by the conduct of one hour.” – Japanese Proverb

If your customer service is terrible or borders on mediocre, your business can be sure to lose customers very rapidly.  Poor service erodes trust – and as per the quote above, without trust the most solidly built reputation can easily be undermined within a few minutes. Every business would consistently need to interact with its customers and irrespective of size, business model and industry, your customer service would be the reason customers stay with your company. Your customer service would not only enable you to keep the existing customers, but would be largely responsible for gaining new ones too. Good customer service does take up time and resources, but has its benefits too – while terrible service could practically lead to the shutdown of your business. Even the smallest customers would not stand for terrible and shoddy service, and could potentially ruin your relationship with other customers too by sharing their poor experiences with others. As a company, have you analysed – is your customer service terrible or is there reason for your customers to rejoice in doing business with you.

Of course, even if a company knows that its customer service is terrible, no one really admits to it. Most companies would rather ignore some of the service lapses, believing that on most occasions they do a great job with regard to customer service. For customers though, your customer service may well be the reason that they would walk away and never return. When companies ignore too many such lapses, they would be negating the need for better customer service and this could soon become the cause of their downfall. So how can a company determine terrible customer service and that it is pushing customers away? Are there any warning signs that a company must be aware of to know when they have strayed from acceptable levels of service?

We know that many customers do not make the effort to complain if something bothers them about a company. They may stay on for lack of other choices but would switch the moment they find a company more suited to their needs and one with good customer service. However, the sure shot sign that your customer service is terrible would be a sharp rise in complaints. The complaints could either be similar in nature or varying complaints for a variety of reasons. Rather than treat these complaints as bothersome and unnecessary, a company must use them as feedback and opportunities to improve. While they would be conveying that your customer service is in tatters, the customers are also providing your company with an opportunity to make things right. They chose not to walk away but rather made the effort to help your business. Be thankful and take swift and effective action to ensure that your customer service becomes the reason for them to turn profitable and loyal.

The rush and frenzy of today’s business world leads companies to end up working in silos. Each department seems to ‘fighting fires’ and dealing with issues that appear within their department. This in turn leads to significant gaps in communication, which in turn leads to a fall in your customer service levels and increases the number of poor experiences customers have with the company. Companies must ensure that they leverage the power of technology and invest in smart Customer Relationship Management Systems such that every piece of customer data remains stored in a central location and can be accessed as and when required. The chances of ambiguity and misinformation are significantly reduced through automated processes and it would be easier for companies to provide more customized products and personalized service.

You should know that your customer service is falling when you start to become unsure of what customers and others are saying about you on social media. Given that it is a highly visible platform, and anyone can provide comments and feedback, anything said about a company would be seen (and believed) by a very large number of people. A company that focuses on the customer and provides great customer service would not need to shy away from social media and neither would they need to be worried. Instead, social media would become an indispensable part of their business and any feedback received on this platform would be treated with care and respect.

In a previous exposition we spoke about the need for your customer service department to double up as a sales channel. Your customer service has the potential to give your marketing efforts a head start by gaining a sound reputation for your company. Top class service would encourage customers to speak well of your company and form positive opinions about it, such that by the time the marketing personnel visit them, they would have already decided in your favour. Some of the most successful companies have become so by focusing on top class customer service and creating a reputation strong enough to ensure brand advocacy through customers. Research has revealed that 81% of companies that focus on top class customer service far outrun their competitors. This is true for any size of company –their customer experiences are lot more enjoyable and pleasant when compared to those of their competitors. If your customer service is shoddy, the best marketing endeavours and the best of products would not be enough to retain customers.

We mentioned above that a rise in complaints would mean that your customer service has become terrible. While this is true, what is also true is that a significant drop in complaints could also mean the same thing. The fact in business is that only about 4% of unhappy customers bother to complain – most customers do not have the time or do not want to make the effort to provide feedback. It is the onus of a company to ensure that their customer service matches the expectations of the customers. It may not be possible to please all the customers, especially since every company would have a variety of customers, with varying needs and expectations. However, it is the responsibility of the company to strive consistently to better their service and constantly solicit customer feedback to understand whether it is headed in the right direction. While your customer service may aim to please the largest number of customers, it must be remembered that each customer’s view of service would be subjective – based on their individual needs and expectations.

Your customer service is your responsibility. Your company must make it a point to improve every aspect of its business at every opportunity it gets and should actively seek out customer feedback, even if it is expected to be negative. By improving your customer service, your business will gain manifold benefits including more profitable and loyal customers, increased sales, revenue, profits, and a market formidable market reputation. With all these factors, a company is able to attract even more customers, reputed investors and the best talent in the market. If however, your customer service is terrible and no efforts are made to improve it, high attrition of both customers and employees would be inevitable, the reputation of the company would suffer, and the company could well need to shut down its operations.

Your customer service should be your company’s hallmark. Customers must come to you and remain with you because they feel valued, special, and know for sure that their every need and expectation would be met. Customers are the backbone of any company – their satisfaction has the potential to grow your business exponentially and skyrocket your reputation. Ignoring your customer service could take away your business’ ‘backbone’ for good and wipe out every trace of your company. Is your customer service terrible?

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