Customer Service Isn’t a Strategy

As a small business owner who cares about customer service, it is disappointing to read articles promoting bad customer service.

Yes, that is correct, promoting bad customer service.

Bad Customer Service Strategy

There are two well thought out strategies to implement bad customer service.  The first of which is when you control a large enough market share, customer service no longer matters.  The classical example of this is the airline industry.

Remember the story last year of the bumped passenger being bodily removed from a United Airlines flight?  In the end, the airline paid a few payouts for the mess it created and suffered several weeks of bad press, but in the end, the airline still was highly profitable and suffered no loss in market share.

Why should they worry about customer service if there is no downside to bad customer service?

The second strategy to bad customer service is the two-tiered customer call structure.  For example, you have concerns about a product you purchased so you call their customer service line.  Your first call is to an agent who has no real authority other than to hear your complaint.

Knowing that statistically, people will not make a second call, the first agent informs the caller that to solve your issue you must call another number and talk to a second agent who has authority.

While the second agent will happily solve your problem, the company knows that they will have to resolve fewer complaints since the second agent will receive calls from only the most persistent customers.

Good Customer Service

As a business owner, looking for ways to save money at the expense of customer service is a bad strategy.

Good customer service is not a strategy; it is a business principle.  It needs to be part of your business mentality.  We need to always strive for good customer service.  How to provide good customer service is a strategy, but not whether it’s good or not.

How to Provide Good Customer Service

The strategy on how to provide good customer service is not that difficult.  In today’s world, it is simply humanizing your service.  The pendulum of technology has swung so far toward automated responses, that simply having people solve problems has become remarkable.

For example, when Tony built Zappos, he invested in having his customer service people spend hours on the phone with customers, rewarding his employees for going great lengths to create memorable interactions.

When FedEx was building relationships with busy business people who would become the backbone of their customer base, FedEx routinely answered the phone on the first ring every time.

Keys to Good Customer Service

  • Treat your customers like friends.

When you ask friends for their opinions, you expect honest answers that will prevent you from making a mistake or embarrassing yourself. Your relationship with consumers should be as honest as you are with your friends.

  • Show that you care.

In friendships and in business, lip service won’t get you loyalty. Truly caring about the customer and their experience is what matters. Start with using simple niceties like “please” and “thank you.”  You’d be surprised at how unusual it is for companies to show good manners to their constituents.

  • Keep your promises.

Do not go back on your word. Period. If you tell a customer you’ll be at their door between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., don’t arrive at 9:10 a.m. Consumers know respect when they see it

The Bible

James 2:8-9 says.

You will do all right, if you obey the most important law in the Scriptures. It is the law that commands us to love others as much as we love ourselves.  But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned.

God is telling us to treat everyone with the same love we treat our friends and family.  Even though you have never met them and have only spoken on the phone, your customers need to understand that you respect them, you care, and you will do anything within reason and authority to satisfy their concerns.

Treat everyone as if they are your friends, and treat all your customers like your best friends.  Just as God has taught—honesty, integrity, and spending time with customers all produce great customer service.