Great Customer Service and the Customer Experience

If you are providing your customers with great customer service, congratulations on a job well done. You have a competitive advantage over others in your marketplace. You have differentiated yourself and you likely have a loyal and growing customer base. You probably discovered what your competitors have not – that delivering great customer service is not just a point of purchase activity. Instead, it is a series of activities or “touch points”, that I’ll discuss later, that customers experience before, during and after the sale of a product or service.

Today, great customer service is defined by the customer. That is to say, it is the customer’s perception of the experience you provided that keeps them coming back, or heaven forbid, switching to your competitor. The point of delivering a great customer experience is of course, to engender trust, satisfaction and to increase the likelihood of repeat business. It’s about forging a long-term, profitable relationship.

It used to be said that one unhappy customer would tell 10-15 people. Today, the internet and social media can deliver a bad review to millions in less time than it takes to sneeze.

Should this concern you? It should if you consider what it costs to attract new customers compared with the cost of retaining them. New customer acquisition can cost anywhere from four to eight times what it costs to retain them. Poor customer service loses customers and revenue, adds cost to the business, and shrinks profits.

Delivering great customer service by providing a memorable customer experience starts with your customer service strategy. Is your strategy “inside out” or “outside in”? If your organization’s policies, procedures, processes, practices, and systems are designed to make it easier for the organization to do business with your customers, then your strategy is “inside out”.  If they are designed to make it easier and more convenient for your customers to do business with you, then your strategy is “outside in”. Consider these examples: How easy is your website to navigate? What is your return/refund policy? How accessible is your customer care team to your customers? How convenient is it to schedule a delivery or a service appointment? Do you offer gluten-free products? Depending upon your business, there are many other examples to consider.

Earlier, I mentioned the term “touch points”. A touch point is any form of contact from which a customer forms a perception about a product or service that influences their buying decision. What touch points do your customers experience and how would they rate each one? For example, what is the physical appearance of your place of business and your staff. If you are in the restaurant business, how clean are your restrooms? How are guests greeted or thanked when they leave?  If you are a delivery service, how reliable is your on-time delivery? How clean are your vehicles and how do your drivers look? Have you ever seen a dented or rusted UPS truck or an unkempt UPS driver? How safe is that fragile package? If you are a retailer, how attentive and knowledgeable is your staff? Will they help a customer find what they are looking for, or just point in the direction of aisle 12?

Clearly there are many more touch points. You’re a consumer too. What drives the impressions you form when you are a customer? Think of the most memorable customer service moments you have experienced. What made them so memorable? Was it an action, an attitude or even just a simple smile and a thank you? You don’t have to be Disney to deliver a Disney-like experience. The size or the type of business doesn’t matter. Providing what the customer perceives as a memorable experience does; and it is an investment with positive returns.

Written by By Len Tammaro, September, 2017

Len Tammaro is a consultant and learning and development professional specializing in customer service and leadership development training. After thirty years of management and learning and development work, he now consults and provides training programs to business organizations across various industries and facilitates workshops for the Bristol Community College Center for Workforce and Community Education.