Friday, July 24, 2009

Chapter 1/2

Still need convincing?

In the September 2008 issue of Sales & Marketing Management, consultant Scott Hornstein further discussed this issue of American corporations' cataclysmic problem with customer service. Hornstein wanted to see what real, live customers thought about customer service so he sent out a survey to regular folks who deal with a variety of companies and their brands. Hornstein asked:

1. Of your current experiences, does customer service today meet your expectations? Please respond on a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being "absolutely not" to 10 being "deliriously yes")?

Average score: 3.7 (almost 20% of the responses were 1s)

2. How would you rate large corporations' commitment to customer service (on the same 1 to 10 scale)?

Average score: 3.0 (40% of the responses were 1s)

3. In general, what are your expectations of your initial customer service interaction? What do you expect will happen (with 1 being "absolutely nothing" and 10 being "thoroughly delighted")?

Average response: 4.6 (Ah, a glimmer of hope, on their part.)

4. How important is customer service to you when you make a decision to purchase from a company (with 1 being "no difference" and 10 being "nothing is more important")?

Average response: 7.8 (over 30% of the responses were 10s)

Now, Hornstein admits that his sample was not random and that some could fault his methodology. But is anyone surprised with the results? You don't doubt the projectable quality of Mr. Hornstein's findings, do you?

Businesses face a terrible crisis right now and it is far more serious than the economic recession in which we find ourselves. There is a huge recession of customer confidence in businesses' ability to meet their service needs.

Do your own research. Not on your company (yet), but on other brands in the marketplace. People are fed up and they will do anything (including constantly switching brands) not to have to take it anymore. What I hope you also take away from this is that whether you sell products or perform a service, we are all in the service business! In fact, many businesses complain that they find themselves selling commodities where price is the sales-determining factor when great customer service could distinguish them to such an extent as to take them out of a commodities market.

One small ray of hope for the small business owner is that customers seem slightly more dissatisfied with how large corporations deliver customer service than they do with businesses in general. Hey, its a start.

There is a huge recession of customer confidence in businesses' ability to meet their service needs.

As a small business owner, you must recognize that the chances are pretty good that your company may not be delivering stellar customer service, either. In fact, it is rather probable that your company is not, if you just play the odds here. But you can find out for sure and that is what we will talk about soon.

Before we do that, be thinking about all that money you spend in advertising that brings customers to your door only to be mistreated by your organization's customer care because the advertising told them one thing and their customer experience told them another. Talk about a disconnect.

Thanks for reading. More to come!

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