energizing breakthrough performance

The Art of Making Sure Your Customers are Happy and Keeping Them That Way

by Jennifer A. Thompson, Strategic Futures principal

It seems like it should be so simple, but it’s not. Many organizations’ customers today are unhappy. Often, the companies only learn of the dissatisfaction when executives look at the numbers and discover financial evidence of customer defections—customer defections reduce revenue, increase expenses, and thereby dent profitability.

If you do not cover every base in customer service, your customers will jump ship because customer service trumps customer loyalty every day. You may be sitting pretty, right now, but is that only because your competition is weak, not well-positioned or non-existent? Is your service motto, “we’re no worse than anybody else?”

But, then, there’s always tomorrow.

Take one local newspaper as an example.

The management of this particular newspaper tried and tried for months to get it right, the process of getting a Sunday newspaper to its customers on a particular route—while it was still Sunday morning. Staffing problems were rampant, but an even greater problem was that management did not understand the essentials of effective customer service. Let’s peek inside to see what happened in a particular exchange with a customer.

The customer called one Sunday morning because the newspaper was missing. He expressed dismay to the person answering the newspaper’s circulation phone line, mentioning that this was not the first time—he had suffered prior delivery problems. The customer service representative expressed concern with the customer’s frustration, apologized on behalf of the newspaper and, within an hour, a newspaper was indeed delivered. The end result? The customer felt cared for. Sound silly? Bottom line: The customer did not cancel his subscription!

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