Customer Service Excellence Is a Business Opportunity
By Jim Totty
When you hear the phrase “Customer Service Excellence,” what does it mean to you?
Perhaps you feel it is something that’s “nice to have,” but doesn’t really affect your bottom line profits?
Well, I’m here to tell you that quite the opposite is true:
If you create a truly excellent customer experience, you are much more likely to experience a great improvement in your profits.
This is especially true of a service business such as tax preparation and consulting.
What Is Excellent Customer Service?
As the customer, here are some critical components that come to mind, when I am evaluating whether or not the service is excellent:
- Doing business and having a totally pleasant experience
- Quality of the product or service
- Feeling as if you are the company’s most important customer
- Always feeling welcome
- Family atmosphere
- Trust in the service provider to always do the right thing on your behalf
- Price and value received
- Delivery and follow-up
- My expectations are exceeded
Each customer has their own needs and realizing “that one size doesn’t fit all” is essential.
Working with customers both potential and current to fully understand their needs and priorities is much more effective and rewarding than guessing.
The first step to ramping up your profits, then, could be to just ask your customers about the topics named above. Do your customers feel that you are providing these things to them? If not, ask them what you can do better.
Just the fact of you reaching out to learn more about their wants and needs will tell your clients that you care about them—this will increase your likelihood of retaining those clients and selling more services, which will in turn increase your profits.
How Exactly Excellent Customer Service Increases Profits
OK so you might be thinking, “Sure Jim, that’s good, but how exactly will this increase my profits?”
Consider the example of a favorite restaurant. Many of us have a favorite restaurant that we are drawn to when dining out. Right?
After having an exceptional dining experience, why do we want to share that experience with friends and neighbors? Because these businesses exceed our expectations and make for a pleasant experience.
Customer referrals are such a critical success factor for any business. It is a proven fact that your existing customer can be your best advertising. Not to mention, referrals don’t cost you an arm and a leg, like most advertising does!
Growing up in a small town in Virginia, I asked my father why he always drove across town to a particular gas station for gas and service when there were others much closer to home. Is it because they have the lowest price? His reply was simple and direct:
“I trust the owner and value our friendship. I know he strives to make our car dependable and safe for my family.”
Can you imagine any better advertisement for your business than a statement such as that, from a father to his son?
The Categories of Customer Service
To me there are three major categories of Custom Service.
We’ll start with the lowest form which is Unsatisfactory Customer Service. Based upon your experience, I’m sure there are a number of these product/service providers that immediately come to mind with characteristics such as these:
- The product or service did not meet expectations
- Delivery was slow or late
- Not as advertised
- Provider was difficult to contact or didn’t reply to my messages
- The experience was unpleasant and time consuming
- As their customer, you did not feel valued
- Some business processes such as billing, customer service or delivery were a problem
- There was a problem and they didn’t respond properly
- Employees were not helpful or rude
Meets Expectations is our next level of Customer Service. The defining characteristic here is that you receive the service as expected, at a fair price and if there is a problem it is resolved to your satisfaction.
An example that comes to mind is when you use a dry cleaner. You bring your articles for cleaning, give any specific instructions such as starch, receive a price quote and a pick up date. When you return on the delivery date your articles are ready and meet you expectations.
Most businesses fall into this level and settle for mediocrity, thus missing their opportunity to be a leader in their industry while increasing their profits and financial stability.
Our final level Exceeds Expectations distinguishes its members as having this distinctive competence while being recognized as industry leaders. Their mission is to make every customer interaction a WOW experience.
So, what is a WOW experience? To me it is simply a pleasant experience that I look forward to having. It provides me with greater value, satisfaction and more pleasure than the competition.
Also note, it is not always the less expensive option but provides greater overall value, and in fact this is another way that excellent customer service juices your profits: because you can charge more.
Unfortunately, there are not many businesses and organizations that meet this level’s criteria. A current example that I admire is Chick-fil-a, which has revolutionized the fast food industry and is more than five times as profitable per location as their competitors, largely as a result of their extraordinary customer service.
Within your industry, what company would you place in this elite classification?
The Bottom Line
My bottom line here is that improving your customer service is almost always a fast, relatively easy way to increase your profits. In my work as a profit enhancement consultant, improving the customer experience was one of the first things that we would look to, when seeking to boost profits.
If you currently have your own business or are starting one, or even just are employed by one, I would enjoin you to make “Exceeding Your Customer’s Expectations” your primary mission.
Let the profits come SECONDARY to serving your customer.
Ironically, it is this “indirect” approach which actually leads, in my experience, to maximizing your profits.
I hope this blog has helped you in some way and I am wishing you all the best in your mission of delivering excellent customer service—and reaping the rewards that come with it!
Jim Totty is a Profit Enhancement Consultant and Business Coach with decades of real-life business and management experience. Jim is passionate about the value of Leadership, and helping Leaders develop their team members and achieve greatness together. Jim serves as a Strategic Advisor for Pronto Tax School, Inc.