Quality customer service is one of the most important attributes a business, big or small, can possess. This is especially true in our industry. It can make or break jobs, accounts, and, in some cases, your entire business.
The impact of “bad” customer service is profound. According to Understanding Customers by Ruby Newell-Legner, it takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved, negative experience. In the same book, Newell-Legner states that a typical business only hears from 4% of dissatisfied customers. A 2011 American Express Survey found that 3 in 5 Americans would try a new brand or company for a better service experience. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs found that a bad customer service experience reaches more than twice as many ears as a good customer service experience.
To recap, if you or your company aren’t providing quality customer service then you’re likely not going to hear about it, it’s going to be an uphill battle to correct, your existing customers will more than likely be looking elsewhere, and people are going to hear about. That’s not a good situation to be in, especially if you’re new in town or operate in a smaller market.
But what if you provide excellent customer service? There are a large number of reasons customers choose to “come back” to a business. Categorically, excellent customer service encapsulates a large majority of those reasons. And when they do?
In an article for smile.io, Alex McEachern found, and cited, that repeat customers are profitable in 5 big ways:
- A repeat customer is more likely to shop with you again and again.
- A repeat customer is easier to sell to.
- Repeat customers spend more on each purchase.
- Repeat customers spend more at key times.
- Repeat customers share your store/business more.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Corroborating this article, the same American Express Survey mentioned previously found that 7 in 10 Americans are willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service. According to Capgemini, this number is actually 8 in 10. Bain & Company found that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%!
What if a part gets delayed or the wrong one is shipped and the job is a delayed? Not a big deal according to MarketingSherpa; they found that 82% of satisfied customers are either “likely” or “very likely” to keep shopping with a company even if something goes wrong. Taking excellent customer service a step further, a resolved complaint in the customer’s favor results in the customer doing business with you again 70% of the time, according to Lee Resources.
How do you know when you’re providing excellent customer service? The two biggest indicators I have found are:
- An overwhelming majority of your jobs will be from repeat customers and customers referred to you.
- Your customers will be proactive to let you know that they appreciate your service, your responsiveness, your assistance, etc.
If that sounds overly simplistic, you’re right, it is. It doesn’t have to be complicated though. If you are doing a good job, your customers will remain loyal and send their friends, family, and colleagues your way. It’s often said that the best compliment in business is a referral. That couldn’t be more true in my eyes.
Teaching and imparting excellent customer service information, techniques, and wisdom is beyond the scope of this article but let me share a few books on the subject that helped me:
- Uplifting Service: The Proven Path to Delighting Your Customers, Colleagues, and Everyone Else You Meet by Ron Kaufman
- The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business by Richard R. Shapiro