A funny thing happened to the way we do business sometime around the mid 90s. Most of us call it the Internet. It changed everything.
All of a sudden customers were far more educated than ever before because they had nearly unlimited resources to consumer education. If you needed a hammer for a home improvement project, you could simply go online and find the best hammer money could buy according to online reviews. Competition also changed drastically as a result of the Internet revolution. The idea of a business being “the only game in town” disappeared because now at the click of a button, Amazon or a whole host of other retailers can have just about anything you could ever need shipped to your home in less than a week.
The ripple effect from an increased customer awareness and a globally competitive marketplace was the exponentially higher level of importance placed on businesses needing to excel at customer service. When customers can look up online reviews as quickly as they can turn on the television, your business better have some five star examples out there. When competition exists not only in your local neighborhood, but from around the world, you also better have some damned good customer service because if you’re hard to deal with, customers know they have a plethora of other options to choose from at their fingertips. Therefore, the need for your business to excel at customer service has most likely never been higher than it is right now, and it’s not going to change anytime soon. The good news is that this can be a long-term business blessing. The following is a list of the top benefits your business can reap from providing elite levels of customer service in 2016 and beyond.
- Better Branding: When word of mouth hits both the physical and virtual streets that your business provides great customer service, the result is a much better branding image that results in a decisive edge over your competition. Overlooked in the phenomenon of Amazon’s wildly successful distribution system is the fact that they have a great reputation for customer service. Sure, the warehousing dominance is the key factor in building their success, but it’s the better branding through better customer service that sustains it.
- Growth Spurt: Is your company merely filling orders or is it growing? Is it growing this year? Is it forecasted to grow beyond this year? How you answer these questions will be a big factor in determining the longevity of your company’s existence. Better customer service will spur organizational growth through increased leads, referrals, etc. If you’re merely filling orders, that means you’re surviving today, but you may have no solid ground to stand on tomorrow. Don’t just exist, grow through elite customer service.
- Sustainability: Great customer service will lead to brand loyalty, which in turn makes it much less likely that a customer will abandon you for a gimmicky promotional offer, Groupon, or giveaway from a competitor. People pay a premium for service, and as long as you’re giving it to them, they will be much less likely to “cheat” on you with another company.
- Your Online Reputation: Businesses are spending massive budgets on restoring their online reputation. A few bad online reviews can drive away business and unfortunately you may not even be aware of it. If someone looks up your business online and gets turned away from a bad review, you probably don’t even know you just lost that business. Save the money from restoring your reputation by stopping it from becoming damaged in the first place. Treat your prospects with respect and bend over backwards to satisfy them to make it much less likely they leave a bad review on Yelp. If you’re lucky, maybe they will leave a good one and you’ll actually increase your online reputation.
- Street Cred: Often overlooked in today’s cyber environment where an online reputation seems like everything, is the more traditional word of mouth reputation. People still talk to friends and family. They still interact with people at the grocery store and the gas station among other places. You just never know when the subject of your industry may come up and someone spreads the word about a great experience with your business. With a customer-focused business plan, you are poised to take advantage of great street cred.
- Customer Retention: It is infinitely easier to keep an existing customer coming back than it is to develop new ones. The customer is already there, so all you have to do is keep them happy and don’t give them a reason to leave. Developing new customers requires much more work. It requires prospecting, marketing, and precious time.
- Team Cohesion: By stressing a customer focused attitude throughout your organization, your employees will have a clear understanding of the high standards associated with their performance and their obligations to customers and each other. It creates much less confusion and instills an all for one and one for all attitude among team players in all departments. There is actually much less employee conflict because all employees need to be on the same page and understand that customer satisfaction is the number one goal.
- Increased Revenue: As long as your other critical business factors are stable, better customer service will just about always lead to increased revenue. This hasn’t changed much over the last several decades and it shouldn’t change going forward either. Excellent customer service will keep existing customers happy and also increase the likelihood of new customers jumping aboard. In fact, this thought process can be so effective that some companies barely need to advertise at all anymore. Looking back at Amazon, they don’t spend much in advertising because they don’t need to. Customers already know they can get what they want within one to three business days and it will be the correct order. If anything goes wrong with it, they also know that the return process will be simple and painless. That’s great customer service that advertises itself.
In a marketplace where consumers have many options available that all boast similar advantages, customer service can be the key differentiator in ensuring your business will thrive throughout 2016 and beyond. Drive home its importance from the tip top of your organization all the way to the ground floor.