We’ve all had bad customer service experiences. I remember a time when I was 20, and my best friend and I were driving home from Oregon. On our way, right before crossing the Idaho/Oregon border, we found a Perkins restaurant. As were both desperate to alleviate the pains of our empty stomachs, we decided to stop for a quick meal. What we ended up getting was a meal, kind of, but it certainly didn’t come quick. The restaurant was severely understaffed, which resulted in us waiting for at least half an hour before our order was even taken. After waiting for another excessive period of time, we received food that was cold, possibly even by Antarctic standards. The steak that my friend had ordered was inedible. This wasn’t just according to him, his golden retriever that he tried to feed it to in the car wouldn’t even have any of it. Our complaints were met with blasé and ho-hum responses from the staff, and we were never offered even a small discount. In all the years that have passed since this incident, I have never returned to eat at a Perkins restaurant, even though I enjoyed the chain when I was a child. I came to this decision after one just poor night. Now imagine a business that exhibits such poor customer service on a regular basis. If customers reacted like I did, how on earth would such a business ever be allowed to thrive? Good customer service is essential to the survival of a business. Bad customer service can be a nail in the coffin for a struggling business.
There are several ways that bad customer service can be exhibited, and each way can deliver quite a blow to a business. Let’s use the hypothetical of a shopper buying a product from a store. A skilled customer service associate should assist the customer in looking for what the customer requests, not for what the associate him or herself thinks that that customer needs instead. When an associate presses for other products, a customer will start to feel pressured to buy, a feeling no one likes. Not only that, but the customer, who had one simple request, will feel like his or her request is not being met and even being ignored. A customer in this experience is much, much less likely to buy from that store. Needless to say, if this happens on a regular basis, the store’s bottom line is going to feel that.
What most business owners know is that it is far less expensive to retain old customers than to attract new ones. While a business should of course always be looking to bring in new customers, businesses that maintain a solid relationship with all of their repeat customers tend to do very well. However, the only way to keep these customers is to provide solid customer service. Customers who have a negative experience with a business will come that one time, but never again. If a business has to depend on attracting new customers solely, that business will simply not be able to afford it.
Customers who have a negative experience with a business will not only not return, but they will tell their friends about the experience. On average, a customer will tell ten people about a negative customer service experience. So not only will that one person not come back to the store, but ten others have been encouraged to do the same. If this happens on a repeated basis, that number starts to get very big very fast.
Bad customer service can prove fatal for a business. There are so many ways to avoid it, including hiring the right people and establishing a positive mentality from the top down. However you choose to eradicate it, bad customer service cannot exist in a business. There will soon be no customers left. For more information about call center certification and project management training courses, check these out.
Todd Donnelly is a customer service veteran and publisher for the call center certification resource center, RCCSP. He enjoys blogging about customer service, sound business practices, and professional advice.