Like most people at least 62 per cent, according to a 2019 study by Hello Products, I don’t like going to the dentist. However, this was my week for getting a cavity checked out and I headed down to the dentist’s office. You know the routine; you get questioned and prodded by the dental assistant as she takes x-rays and pokes around in your mouth. Yet, for some reason this dental assistant seemed different from most others. She seemed passionate about her job and was eager to explain to me why they were taking my blood pressure and why a bone in my mouth hurt when she took an X-ray. It made my experience of the dentist so much better than usual.
One would think that when times are tough customer service would take a front seat in the minds of business leaders. However that doesn’t seem to be the case. Take for example my daughter’s experience recently of going into the bank where she simply asked why they weren’t answering the phone when she called. The receptionist blew up and told her that people were busy working from home and it wasn’t a priority. My daughter is now in the process of changing banks.
Or the story I heard from someone who went to a restaurant last week for a great experience with friends and came away with a large bill and stories to tell their friends about how bad the food and service were.
Unfortunately, most customer service we get is mediocre at best. We all think that our organizations bend over backwards to serve our customers, yet the truth is, if we were truly to look at the service through the eyes of a customer, we might be appalled. How often do our team members forget to follow up on phone calls or messages, mix up an order, or make a mistake because we they have failed to pay attention to our customers’ requests. Research says 89 per cent of your old customers who are now buying from your competitor are doing so because your customer service failed them.
So why does it matter?
According to a report by Small Business Trends, 82 per cent of respondents said they have left a business because of poor customer service and 78 per cent of people have bailed on a purchase because they didn’t get the customer service that they expected. These people are leaving your business because of rude staff, unknowledgeable staff and issues not getting resolved in a timely manner.
Because the lifetime value of a customer can be calculated, though rarely is, and it can cost you a five to 10 times more money to get new customers than to retain an existing customer, it really matters that you can find ways to keep customers happy. In fact, it has been calculated that a two per cent increase in customer retention is equal to a 10 per cent reduction in total company expenses. Businesses that are able to improve the retention of five per cent of customers through better customer service notice an increased profitability between 25-90 per cent. At a time when many businesses are struggling, it makes sense to focus on keeping customers happy.
The encouraging fact about terrible customer service experience is that 92 per cent said that they would return to a business, after they received an apology, a discount on another purchase, and/or proof of improved customer service. Unfortunately, many organizations let clients and customers slip away one at a time without any follow up.
Having great customer service starts with you, the leader. Your team are is watching how you treat customers and how you treat your employees and they will try to emulate your actions. If you give lip service to treating people well and then treat your team poorly, don’t expect your clients to expect anything different. If you have a passion for looking after customers, it rubs off on your team.
As leaders we need to hire people who are passionate about what they do. Just as the dental assistant I encountered this week was passionate about her career, it is equally important that the dentist had the system in place to recognize that she would be a great addition to the organization. Building and creating a culture of passionate employees ensures that we have great customer service and that our customers will keep coming back. That just might be the deciding factor between you and your competition.
Dave Fuller MBA, is the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy and an award-winning business coach with Pivotleader Inc. Passionate about this topic? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.