To follow up on an article I wrote recently about how some companies purposely deliver bad customer service because they think it is more profitable to do so (at least for them), I wanted to share some stats and facts that “sink that ship.” The companies I referred to in that article feel there is less money to lose by creating hassle and friction, thereby causing customers to “give up” on attempting to get their problems resolved (which could cost the company money).
These companies limit the power of their first level of support, forcing customers to ask for a manager or supervisor, at which point they are put on hold and must repeat their story. In short, customers are able to get some type of remuneration for or relief from their problem only if they are willing to make the effort, spend a lot of time, and metaphorically stomp their feet hard enough. An old saying comes to mind: “The squeaky wheel gets the oil.”
This article takes the approach that creating hassle and friction is wrong—but you probably already knew that (unless you’re one of “those” companies). We interviewed more than 1,000 consumers in our 2020 Achieving Customer Amazement Study and asked about their willingness to switch brands or companies for better customer service. The response was a resounding “yes” to switching, in that 96% of customers will leave you for bad service. That’s almost everyone!
Let’s break down the numbers:
· 27.9% said they are extremely willing to switch to have a better customer service experience
· 32.7% are very willing to switch
· 35.5% are somewhat willing to switch
· Only 3.8% said they would be unwilling to switch
In other words, very few people—less than 4%—are willing to stick around if you don’t provide the service they expect. More than half the respondents (60.6%) said they are extremely willing or very willing to switch. Can you afford to lose half of your customers? (That’s a rhetorical question.)
The point is that there is opportunity here, but there are several pieces of information you must consider:
1. The customer decides if you meet and/or exceed their expectations. And, that means they decide if you fail as well. You may think you deliver great service, but in the end, the customer is the judge and jury.
2. When it comes to customer service, your customers are smarter than ever. They know what good service is because the best companies have taught them. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Nordstrom, The Ritz-Carlton and others that are recognized as customer service rock stars in their industries promise great service—and they deliver. As a result, they have educated our customers on what they can expect when they deal with an excellent company.
3. Because of number two, customers no longer compare you only to your direct competition. They compare you to the best service they have ever received from anyone. That could be the aforementioned rock star companies, or maybe it’s a small business they encounter in their work or in their personal lives. If you think you only have to be better than your direct competitor, you may be wrong. Sure, it’s good to be better than your competition, but the benchmark may be set by companies outside your industry. These companies have given your customers their customer service education.
Don’t give your customers a reason to switch—at least not because of bad customer service. Maybe the bar has been raised, but creating a good service experience starts with people. Something as simple as a friendly greeting, a smile and a sincere gesture of appreciation by just saying “thank you” is a good start. I have written seven books on customer service (with more on the way), but the basics are exactly that … basics. I often joke that one day I’ll be hired to do a speech on customer service, and because the speaker before me goes way over his or her allotted time, I’ll have to cut my 60-minute speech down to 60 seconds. But I don’t even need that long. I can sum it up in two words:
It sounds basic, and as I mentioned, it is. Of course, there’s more, but being nice? That’s a perfect place to start.