Saturday, January 2, 2010

Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent

The pointed firs stand in defiance of the weight of the snow here in Maine, just as they are designed, fundamentally, by nature to do. It's the beginning of 2010.

This year, I believe that economic conditions will make it imperative for businesses to pay even more attention to the fundamentals. Those fundamentals include quality of product, value, and quality of service. Customers will also be thinking in fundamentals such as price, quality, value, and the Customer Experience. I'd like to think that 2010 is the year that businesses really start to believe that retaining a Customer really is less expensive than winning a new one. (Some sources say it's 5x, some say 7x more expensive to gain than to retain.) The Reference for Business also says:
...a company that increases its number of new customers by 20 percent in a year but retains only 85 percent of its existing customers will have a net growth rate of only 5 percent (20 percent increase less 15 percent decrease). But the company could triple that rate by retaining 95 percent of its clients.

What's the most powerful way to retain customers? Say it with me: Good Customer Service! So, ask yourself why Customer Service is not at the very, very, very (very!) top of every business's list of way to increase revenues and hold costs in check. Customer Service needs to be taught, spoken about, featured, tweeted, IM'd, written, inculcated, and ingrained into every aspect of organizational culture.

Good Customer Service not only means treating your customers with all the respect due to your prime source of revenue, it also means designing every aspect of your business to make the customer experience better.

  • Check to see if your Web site is designed for your Customers' benefit, or for yours. If it's the latter, change it, and change it now. Do not try to tell me (the Customer) what I want from you by planting a limited number of dropdowns or radio buttons. Give me the opportunity to express my concern, frustration, gratitude, rage, or interest. 
  • Have a trained, professional Customer Service representative at the receiving end of every Customer Service transaction.*
  • Treat every single Customer as if they are the most important person your business will ever encounter. (Know what? They are!)
Customer Service extends far beyond the sales counter, the Returns desk, the IT Service Desk, and your Web site. It's a way of life.

Do not let the weight of harsh economic realities snap the branches of your business: Learn how to build your business to adapt, like the pointed firs, to the Winter of Our Discontent.
Give it some thought.
* Considering outsourcing your Customer Service to the lowest-bidding call center? Would you do that to Investor Relations? 


  1. Great post on customer service! I have plenty of changes and updates to make! Thank you for providing!

  2. Roy, right on as usual...
    Recently I was reading a book by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon titled, Exceptional Service Exceptional Profit and encountered this sentence: Individual customers are irreplaceable.
    Simple as it sounds. There's real power in recognizing that if you disappoint Mr. Atkinson, you may never see him again (even if another customer does take his place in line).
    Steve @enthused

  3. Thanks, Steve! That's the core of it, in fewer words than I used. :)