The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.

How May I Help You – Why Customer Service Counts

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You would think that it’s a no brainer, but some companies don’t think about how customer service affects their customers’ perceptions about their company/brand. Good customer service to me is an expression of appreciation. The way a company treats me as its customer, shows me how much they value having me buy/use their products and services.  

Customer service, it’s something we experience each and every day. It’s seen in the deli where we buy a sandwich, in the online purchase we make to, the bill we pay, or the gas station where we fill up.  While it may be somewhat in the background, good or poor customer service, especially if extreme one way or the other, is likely to remain top of mind for a long time.  You may also share your good/bad experience with your friends, family and colleagues or via social media or on a review site like Yelp.  Really poor customer service may even drive you to cancel your subscription or cause you to stop patronizing a store or restaurant.

Switching Svc Providers Graphic Source

 

If seen as a way a company shows you how much it appreciates your business, it doesn’t seem like it would should be too difficult to do it well.  Customers are already a fan of your product/service and simply want to continue that positive experience and extol the virtues of your brand.  All a company would have to do is treat you well and/or quickly fix/address any problems that arose. Unfortunately, most companies seem to be blind to how their customer service is perceived. According to Lee Resources, 80% of companies believe that they offer “superior” customer service.   However, only 8% of customers feel that these companies actually deliver “superior” customer service.  Clearly there’s a disconnect.

 

At the end of the day, the chronic complainers/threats of bad review/those set on social media revenge all aside, customers want to feel appreciated, and should an issue arise, validated and listened to.  I know I do. I want to feel valued as a customer and that the company/representative wants to make it right if there is an issue.  A simple, “Welcome to _____” or “Thank you for your purchase,” will do for starters, and a “I’m sorry, let’s see how we can fix this,” goes a long way if trouble comes up.

 

CustSvc Feelings Quote

How TreatedSource

 

What Poor Customer Service Can Do

Interestingly, when I first thought about writing this post, it was because I’d received poor customer service from a local dry cleaner.  A pricing mistake had been made on my pick-up ticket.  Instead of saying, “Oh we made an error and while we’ll honor the price we quoted this time, but please note that the price is actually X for next time” I told that I was “selfish,” and asked why I “couldn’t bear to give up a cup of coffee” (their approximate difference in price) and just pay the higher amount after asking that the quoted price be honored.

I was immediately put on the defensive and deeply upset by their reaction. I also didn’t appreciate the inference that I was erroneously demanding discounts, nor that I was supposed to change a preconceived habit of mine because they had made a mistake.  In the end, I did not pay the increased amount.  I also never went back.  I’d left feeling completely unappreciated and insulted.

 

It’s been said by 2020,  customer experience will overtake price and product as
the key brand differentiation.

Source: Walker Info

Customer Service Done Right

What represents good customer service?  For me, it’s a friendly and welcoming approach, without being overly intrusive of my personal space or needs.  I inherently know that any questions or issues I have will be quickly address or resolved.  I also take into consideration that what I was expecting to happen, happened. This later one I primarily apply to a service like a restaurant or supermarket.  Here are some companies that I think do it well:

  • Trader Joes:  Top notch!  I’m always met by friendly and welcoming staff. They have an amazing “If you don’t like it, return it” policy and often let sample a product you’ve never tried before you purchase it. At my local store, I’m also entered into a raffle for free groceries every time I bring my own bag. (My only complaint feedback is that they sometimes forget to offer the raffle ticket, unless I’ve asked.)

 

Increased business

  • Panera Bread:  I’ve been eating here more often lately and have been very impressed with what I call their “quick to table” service.  While there may be a wait for my food, it’s never been more than 4 minutes – including during peak hours with a packed house.

 

  • Market Basket:   Here’s a company that was so beloved by its employees that they went on strike to get their ousted CEO back.  Even customers stopped shopping there in support.  I find their staff friendly and extremely helpful when locating an item.  As a plus, whenever I’ve made a request for a product, I’ve found it in store within 2 weeks of my request, as a new staple item.

 

  • Paperless Post:  I’ve extolled my praises on this online card vendor here at The Appreciation Factor before. They have a great selection within their free membership/free coins.  All customer service questions I’ve ever asked have been responded to within 24 hours or less and there have been two times where my query has prompted an improvement their processes.  Talk about appreciating my business and feedback!

 

  • Talbots:  Despite a few instances where I was asked by no less than five associates within 2 minutes if they could help me, which was a little much, they do provide good customer service. I recently asked for help in creating a wish list.  I was provided with all of the locations where the items I wanted could be found within a requested geographical area, given the color code and item number, and how many were at each store on a printed “receipt” that I could share. It was the little details that made up for the initial welcoming overload.

 

What do you think about the correlation between Customer Service and Appreciation?
Do you see them linked?
Do you think companies are aware/concerned with their level/quality of customer service?

What companies do you think provide great customer service?
If you dare, is there someone you wish would improve?

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