by Jonathan Simpson
Publication: One-to-One, Spring 2011

Recently, as a frustrated consumer trying to get information, I found a customer service representative who wore a shirt that read: “Just ask.” “Great!” I thought. My source for answers are right here, clearly identified. But my question was met with a look of confusion and then, in broken English (and what I think was a Russian accent), I was asked to repeat the question.

“Oh…never mind…it’s OK” I said with a semi-forced smile, as I shifted roles from customer to host country representative. And so it was with the rest of my experience with this company bungled service opportunities. My point here has nothing to do with U.S. immigration or my inept ability to speak Russian but rather the fact that this undisclosed brand lost me as a client.

We’ve all been there: the waiter who put a damper on the meal, the airline agent indifferent to your delay, the grumpy clerk, the over aggressive sales person, or the one you couldn’t find at all. If you have much contact with the outside world, bad customer service is, unfortunately, commonplace. And if we allow ourselves a moment of honest reflection, we’ve all given bad service at some point as well. With that being said, good service is all the more appreciated and noticeable. When applied, it is light in the darkness.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

THE TRAIL

Serviceman with clipboardMost companies and individuals I know today seem eager to find advantages in their market. If there is “low-hanging fruit” available for making gains, in many circumstances, it can be discovered in better customer service. Your customer service delivery is perhaps the best way for you to differentiate yourself individually and/or corporately in the marketplace. Why look toward customer service?

CONSIDER EXHIBIT A:

*It can cost five times more to buy new customers than retain existing ones. Source: TARP

*68% of customer defection takes place because customers feel poorly treated. Source: TARP

*For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent. source: Lee Resource Inc.

*It takes 12 positive service incidents to make up for 1 negative incident. Source: Lee Resource Inc.

*The average “wronged customer” will tell 8-16 people about it. Over 20% will tell more than 20. Source: Lee Resource Inc.

*Happy customers who have their problems resolved will tell 4-6 people about their positive experience. Source: the White House Office of consumer Affair, Washington, DC.

*91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again. Source: Lee Resource Inc.

*As much as 70% of the customers who complain to you will do business with you again if you resolve their problem. If they feel you acted quickly and to their satisfaction, up to 96% will do business with you again, and they will probably refer other people to you. Source: the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. Washington, DC.

*Reducing customer defections can boost profits by 25-85%. In 73% of cases, the organization made no attempt to persuade dissatisfied customers to stay; even though 35% said that a simple apology would have prevented them from moving to the competition. Source: TARP

*A typical business hears from only about 4% of its dissatisfied customers. 96% just go away and 91% will never come back. Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner

So let’s slap on some smiles, get out there and get to work! “Go team! Yes you can! High fives!” Now we’re on the right track right? If you are an employer believing that you can simply dust off the rah-rah speech then watch the magic unfold… sorry. In order to address the treatment of the client we have to back up a few links on the chain. Before you can expect your employees to deliver on the promise to the client, how are you delivering on the promise to your employees?

Businesses that endure view employees as their most valuable resource. They look for a new hire to possess an attitude of service, and then continuously cultivate it in an authentic environment.

When “employee value” is just a manipulative cliché within a company, then so too is “customer service.” Trusting cultures produce trusting clients. So, how can employers foster trust?

Here’s a few thoughts: establish processes and stick to them, make fiscally sound decisions promote honest and, open communication, lead by example, provide support and training, listen, and give proactive guidance. These actions fuel the tanks of your customer service carriers. Bear in mind that as an employee, if your work in the above mentioned, you still have a responsibility to customer service because CHRIST. Also, as long as you continue to draw a paycheck there from that source, it is care for its customers.

APPREHENDING SERVICE

Boots and lassoLet’s face it – things can’t go right all the time. Some situations will be beyond your control. But aren’t those opportunities for customer service to display itself even stronger? Will you resolve the issue quickly? Are you willing to go beyond what it takes to make it right? Consider also that what others might consider to be “a difficult customer” is the one that will make you improve the most; if you win listen to critiques from others, we can get better and improve the process.

Remember also that with each customer service success, we are building good will in our customers. The client will be less likely to abandon you in the event of a glitch if previously you were consistent to meet or exceed the customer’s expectations.

To exceed your customer’s expectations consider these practices:

  • Don’t make promises unless you will keep them.
  • Personalize the experience, don’t make it feel scripted or forced.
  • Understand the needs particular to the client.
  • Listen to them.
  • Nurture the relationship.

Finally, it should be said that some customers are just going to be impossible to please. Their needs may fall outside of your service niche. In these cases you might consider referring them to another provider so you can devote yourself to your customer base.

THE REWARD

Notice that Jesus didn’t say in Matthew 5, “…that they may hear your good works.” It says, “that they may see your good works”. When we feel compelled to tell people about our light, it’s a good time to think again. Getting service right is really about something that God is trying to work out in us, in our character and attitude. It is going to uncover pride and produce humility. Who is the One Who served above all else? The same One that now rules and reigns at the right hand of the Father. Serving draws people. Those who provide good service garner its reward and so it is with all other applied principles.

One thought: When you’re customer and you get bad service, you have an opportunity there as well, because of who YOU are in Christ.

Scripture Reference: Matthew 5