I have something to say to business – commercial, industrial, home business – service industry – all of it. Customer service – if you don’t have stellar customer service?
Internal and external; you are losing business.
Lots of it.
Most customers don’t bother with complaints; their feeling is that if you can’t be bothered to answer questions, to respond to e-mail or voice mail, then they can’t be bothered telling you why they are moving their business elsewhere. The impression, with which the customer is left, is one of apathy and unprofessionalism.
There is always another business, out there, that recognizes the importance of positive customer relations.
Never underestimate the impact of networking, the internet or simple conversation between individuals. For example, a couple of people connecting at a conference or other business specific functions, one individual mentions that they are or will be working with your company – the conversation partner reacts with a negative comment based on their experience with one of your staff. It IS enough to give someone pause for thought. From then on, your company will be watched, carefully, for any sign of the issues mentioned in that casual conversation.
There is nothing more frustrating for a client than an e-mail that goes unanswered, a voice mail for which they receive no response. This is not only unprofessional; it is extremely rude. E-mail and voice mail are important forms of communication – they are your direct line to your client. If your staff does not respond to an e-mail or a voice mail within an hour’s time – even if it is simply to say that the message was received and a response is pending, your staff has created a negative impression of their importance to your business. Negative impressions are long lived, far more long lived than are positive impressions. This is just human nature.
Customer service is not just an external issue – customers, vendors, suppliers; it is internal as well, including co-workers, colleagues at other branches, sales personnel. When someone on your staff does not treat other members of the company with professionalism and alacrity, there will be a communication breakdown that will impact your business. Again, human nature steps in; an e-mail or phone call, text message or internal messaging is left unanswered, then your branch, your office is deemed uncooperative and you can bet that when you need a swift response of your own, it will be a long time coming.
Common courtesy is an absolute, regardless of whether you are dealing with clients externally or internally. It is the foundation of success. I, myself have chosen to not do business or communicate with uncooperative or unresponsive companies/individuals. I choose my business dealings based, in a large degree, on the customer service provided. In my professional life, I try to build relationships with those individuals with whom I will work; people who also understand that our main goal is customer satisfaction and that we have the same end game – success and through that, job security.
Simply because your customers are not complaining does not mean that your business is the best it can be. Listen and watch the interaction between your staff and clients, between your staff and their colleagues. One negative experience can colour your future success.
All business has a human component; staff are not necessary liabilities – that is the thinking of the company doomed to mediocrity. Your staff is your vehicle for success. Ensure that your vehicle is well maintained for high performance.