You always knew that customer service was important to your customers. Do you know how much they are willing to pay for it?
A recent survey by the American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, exploring attitudes and preferences toward customer service, reveals that providing high caliber customer service unlocks terrific potential to grow their business income, improve reputation, and retain customers.
Perhaps the most significant revelation of this survey is that customers are willing to pay more, up to 9% more, to ensure that they obtain superior customer care. How can you use this information in your business? By examining the impact of customer service on the cyclical nature of customer experience, it can be understood why customers value a positive experience so highly.
The cycle begins with the customer’s first experience with your store. When a customer is deciding whether or not to spend their hard-earned dollars at a store, the store’s customer service reputation is one of the most influential factors in their decision.
In fact, 91% consider the level of customer service that they perceive the company to have to be extremely important when initially deciding to do business. Notice the key word “perceive” – meaning you can influence the perception your customers have! Actively solicit customer testimonials and provide the social proof your customers want, then post them EVERYWHERE – in the store, on your website, on emails, and on your fan page.
However, simply having a reputation of quality service is not enough – it must be seen in action! For this reason, it is vital that the customer’s first experience lives up to or exceeds their expectations. What is something extra that you could offer?
The next step of the cycle is to retain the customer. Sadly, almost half of all customers surveyed feel that stores make the effort to get them in the door, but then take them for granted. This is where great opportunity exists for a store that provides stellar customer service for existing customers.
What’s more, the survey revealed that customer service strongly impacts the consumer’s future spending decisions. Not surprisingly, 81% of customers are very likely to repeat business after receiving positive service. Equally as important, 52% of consumers said that they would not patronize a business after a negative experience. Clearly, wonderful service keeps them coming back for more! (Although I was also struck by the fact that 48% are forgiving enough to return. Tune in next week and learn what specific steps to take to get them back!)
The final step of the cycle is how the customer shares their experience with others. The marketing power of a positive customer experience is priceless. Many assume that customers are more willing to share negative experiences. On the contrary, the survey revealed that 75% are very likely to share a positive experience!
Consider the ability the customers have to broadcast their experience worldwide through ever-so-powerful social media, it seems foolish to not emphasize quality customer service in your business. You never know when or with whom your customer will share his or her experience and get a new potential customer to walk in your door and start the cycle all over again. This is why it is crucial that every customer has a spectacular experience every time!
At each stage of the customer cycle, from the customer’s first experience, to subsequent visits, to sharing their experience with others, it is clear that customer service is an essential product of any successful business. It is proven that customers are willing to pay up to 9% more, to ensure that they receive fantastic customer service.
The lesson to be learned here is toinvest in customer service – AND customer experience. Adjust your business perspective to view expenses associated with providing the best customer experience possible as an investment and not a cost. Doing so will allow you to charge more for your services (already a return on your investment!), retain the customers you have, and perpetuate growth.
Your Customer Service Assignment:
This concept is so powerful. Invest the time and energy to discover what you can do. I suggest that you get two groups of people together: your staff and your top 10 customers. Both groups would have valuable insight on this topic.
- What do you see as the difference between excellent customer service and a fantastic customer experience?
- Be sure to ask for customer testimonials to provide social proof that your store is great!
- How can you “WOW” the customer the first time they walk through your door?
- Is there something you can do immediately following the sale to cement the great experience in their mind?
- Do you send thank you notes?
- What do you do well now? What could you do better? Analyze each cycle.
- What can you do or offer to show that you know they have choices and to thank them for shopping with you?
- Ask your customers what else you can offer to make their lives better – or to solve a problem in their lives – as it relates to what you do, of course! 😉
- What could you offer to “encourage” them to tell their friends about you?
There are no wrong questions. The ONLY mistake is not doing anything.
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