Why customer service is everything

Posted: 2nd October 2014

It’s the Little Things… Why Good Customer Service is Everything Rachel Robb www.dstorm-marketing.com

In August I went on holiday with my family to Florida, and I have to say, I came back to England feeling more than a little despondent. Despite the welcome sight of cows in green fields as we sped along the motorway towards home, I found myself dwelling (no, brooding) on the fact that I had returned to a country where good customer service can be the exception rather than the rule. And it wasn’t just me. A fellow Brit was complaining about the ‘usual bloody chaos’ of retrieving his luggage at baggage reclaim before he had even got off the plane.

Now, I know that Disney’s Magic Kingdom, with its immaculately clean facilities and eager-to-please ride attendants, should not be the yardstick by which I measure my customer experience in the Stafford branch of Home and Bargain. But I am not just talking about Disney; washrooms were just as spotless and members of staff were equally as helpful in the cheapest of fast food restaurants and in the American equivalent of Poundland (Dollar Tree, if you’re interested). And there is no denying it, whether shopping, eating out or exchanging pleasantries with a street cleaner at a theme park, good customer service makes you feel valued.

It is generally accepted that if a customer feels valued, he or she is far more likely to:

a) shop or eat at the same outlet again,

b) recommend the place to friends,

c) visit again with friends.

So, keeping customers happy is worth potentially a lot of money to a business.

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends” – Walt Disney, The Walt Disney Company

It seems to me that companies put a lot of effort into creating awareness of their brand, chasing prospects and getting new customers. But when it comes to retaining those customers, they let their efforts slip.

When you take into account that it costs a massive six times more to gain a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, and that an existing customer will spend on average three times more than a first-time customer, it makes sense to encourage customer loyalty, doesn’t it? And making your customers feel valued is the best way to inspire that loyalty, starting with the way a customer is treated.

Customer reward schemes aside for a moment, it’s the little things that count: an easy-to-navigate website, a user-friendly ordering system, a thank you from the business when times are good, meaningful interactions via social media, an email newsletter containing information that is both relevant and useful to the customer… All of these will leave your customers with the impression that they are not only appreciated, but that they are a contributor to your company’s success. And indeed they are. In the words of that other great American entrepreneur, Henry Ford,

“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money.

It is the customer who pays the wages.”

I have been back from my holiday in Florida for a few weeks now, and you’ll be glad to hear that I am over my despondency. In fact, before we had even arrived home, I was cheered up no end by an extra piece of bacon being slipped onto my plate by the most smiley and obliging lady behind the breakfast counter at the motorway service station.

Who said customer service is bad in this country anyway?