Customers are the major advertising tools of every business. Their importance towards business growth can never be overemphasized. As a matter of fact, a business exists to have customers. Services, values, profits will not be evaluated if customers don’t exist. Customer service on the other hand refers to all manners of interactions between a prospect/customer and an organization. The efficiency and satisfaction of the customer service can best be ascertained by the customer(s) involved, and will be reflected in the health of the business eventually.
Customer service is often mistaken for “after sales services”. Actually, after sales services is just a part of customer service. While after sales services deal with post-sales services, assistance and information given to customers after sales have been made, customer service encompasses pre-sales, sales and post-sales services.
Customer services starts with how a prospect (not even a customer) is welcomed the moment he walks into an organization or when he picks up the phone to call the customer care desk. This is where most organisations get it wrong. They accord care to customers and treat prospects shabbily.
A practical effect of customer service can be observed in applications’ ratings on Google Play Store. No matter how appealing the brand might be, I’m sure that more than 70% of smartphone users will not bother downloading an application that has a 2.6 rating on the store. Stores won’t even feature it in the top charts. That poor rating is deterrent to potential users of the application.
In view of this, any business that seeks to exceed its current success threshold must pay keen attention to this part of the business. I have been able to enumerate 3 broad ways that customer service affects the growth of businesses:
- Repeat Business
This involves reoccurring patronage from the same customers. In more lucid terms, it is a scenario whereby a customer(s) repeatedly purchase a good or service from a business. Studies have shown that customers will come back if their first experience was great. It’s only in rare cases that a customer will return after a poor initial experience. Such rare cases are dominant in monopolistic markets.
Tony Hseih, Zappos CEO, shared some success secrets of how they remained in the shopping market despite the deep roots of the big guns like Amazon. He revealed that 75% of their annual purchases were made by returning customers, and 43% of new customers heard about Zappos from existing customers. This means that the company would had been knocked out of business if they never had repeat customers. It is therefore not surprising that their customer service is so amazing that they placed it as the top priority in their organisation.
Their response time to calls, chats and emails is superbly record breaking.
Most organisations, especially startups experience declines in their patronage curve, because they have channeled all their resources towards the creation of good products, without having good customer services. A firm with excellent customer service will have dedicated customers that will stick with them even in competitive markets with many key players.
- Business Image And Publicity
I bought my first laptop in 2012 from an infamously popular distributing firm in Computer Village, Lagos. The laptop’s brand is great and renowned, but the firm sold an inferior one to me. From the third week of use till I finally packed it up, the laptop was a nightmare to me. I also had issues with the warranty, so they couldn’t fix it (the laptop) for me. That experience gave me a negative perception of the laptop’s brand and distributing firm. I was faithful enough to tell everyone I came across how bad the firm was, and I never failed to discourage potential customers too. You should never underestimate the power of an aggrieved customer.
In the same vein, the positive remarks of a satisfied customer can generate unprecedented traffic to your business. They’ve got the spear as well as the shield. My blog is often promoted by some of my readers who are always impacted positively by the articles they read here. Some of them chats me up and get answers to their questions. Hence, when your customer service is at its best, you’ll be rest assured that a tangible percentage of your marketing and publicity will be executed by your happy customers. A good product mixed in a stew of excellent customer service always sings with a soronous voice.
- Feedback For Product/Service Improvement
I’m never tired of reiterating that the business world is dynamic. The demands from customers evolves with time and a good business should be well positioned to meet these incessant demands.
In the 3P’s of business (Product, Process and People), it is never enough to have a good Product or People (the target customers). The Process is the bridge connecting the other P’s. It involves the chain of processes through which the Product is made available to the People, and the resultant feedback from the People for the implementation of a new chain. Smart enterprises take the resultant feedback very seriously.
Have you ever wondered why you are always prompted to update your WhatsApp or Facebook app occasionally?
The reason is that mobile application developers gets users feedback from app stores through reviews. They get to know the bugs in the apps and the features that the users want or dislike. After analyses of these reviews, they go back to their labs, fix the bugs, add new features and ultimately improve the applications to suit the demands of the users. This entire process is a practical implementation of customer service.
When a business is ignorant or negligent of the recommendations of the customers, there will be no room for improvement. Lack of improvement leads to dissatisfaction and loss of existing customers, which leads to poor ratings, which leads to lack of new customers. It is a cycle. Businesses who have ignored this integral part of business process have always run below success threshold.
It doesn’t matter if your brand is a family name. When you decide to ignore the dynamic demands of customers for better business experience, it won’t take long before you observe the decline in your profit margin. Collapse and liquidation isn’t inevitable for any conglomerate no matter how big it may be. Change is constant. Embrace the change, satisfy the customers and smile to the bank.