SERVICE is probably one of the most overused words in our vocabulary. It has so many meanings and connotations ranging from a service of dishes or silverware to the Armed Forces. But the Service that counts in the business world is usually measured by how efficiently an enterprise handles their transactions and ultimately takes care of its customers.
As our world becomes more complex each day, the word SERVICE will take on many more meanings. Services that were included in the price of items such as free checking in banking or free repairs by the Old Bell Companies are now charged ala carte as used and called fees. These fees are often surprises the first time they are charged and can amount to big bucks on oneís monthly bills. We all cheered as we watched the cost of long distance phone service fall below 10 cents a minute. But we are shocked and furious when a simple repair on your telephone line in your house cost $90 for 15 minutes. Or calling directory assistance that was once free now cost $1.50 and the information is often inaccurate.
How about mailing a letter? Today, if you want to be sure a letter gets to its destination the next day youíll pay around $14 for FedEx just for peace of mind. FedEx will handle millions of $14 letters daily when you could mail the same letter for under 40 cents using the United States Postal Service? Individuals will pay dearly for an extra level of reliable service.
But what exactly is customer service? In truth, itís not just one specific thing. Itís the overall feeling that your customer has after the transaction is complete. A smile is customer service. If you say that youíll call at a certain time, and then call AT THAT TIME, thatís customer service. These are just two of the many small things that you can do to get that customer to come back. Repeat business from happy customers is a core strategy to grow companies and survive in a very competitive world.
Excellent customer service is what separates the best companies from the rest of the pack. Letís face it, people like to be pampered. They like to feel as though theyíre getting the most value for their hard earned money. If they get the feeling that you care less or take them for granted, then theyíll begin searching for someone else who cares more.
Thereís nothing like going to a restaurant and feeling like the waiter or waitress really cares about you having a great experience along with a great meal. That alone will keep you coming back, even if at the restaurant right next door you could get a meal for less money.
Thereís nothing like calling a business and having a friendly person answer, instead of a computer phone which will aggravate you through a maze of menus and pester you with messages to visit their website instead of speaking with a representative. Itís also quite satisfying if you have to make a legitimate return, or if a mistake was somehow made, to get a full refund without having to jump through hoops and feel like a criminal trying to steal back the money you paid.
Serve your customers in an excellent fashion and youíll keep them coming back for years. If youíre really great, you wonít even have to advertise. There will be no need to seek new customers when word of mouth will do the job for you. Some of the very best small businesses donít advertise, yet they are constantly busy serving happy clients. A quick look at their operation will reveal that they treat their customers like gold.
With this business philosophy, there is no need to fear lower prices from your competition. Your customers will have a hard time leaving if you provide the EXCELLENT SERVICE and VALUE.
The above philosophy will always be rare. Excellence is not the easy road, so most businesses donít take it. Instead they struggle and complain about their businesses as much as their customers complain about their services. There is a better way for win-win relationships. Getting and keeping customers should be the mission of your business.