The overwhelming number one complaint voiced by consumers today is poor customer service, and indifference by companies.
As I speak to CEOs and managers of large and small companies across the country one of a consistent themes is falling sales figures. The conversations invariably lead to statements like; figures are down from last month, last year, in the last decade.
What amazes me most, is when I ask for sales figures on repeat business, customer retention, surveys of customer service outcomes, or any initiatives by the company to secure and retain customers, or gain new ones through a reputation of excellent customer service, these figures are much harder to come by, or in some cases nonexistent, for those in management.
Customer service has definitely become a lost art in most companies today. For whatever reason, a” one and done” or a” sell and move on” attitude has pervaded into companies formerly known as having excellent rapport and retention with customers in the past.
Facing today’s worsening economy companies can no longer afford or exist with this kind of attitude. As the economy worsens, fewer consumers will be either able or willing to make purchases of anything other than life essentials, and they will become more and more interested in how they are treated as a customer, because the purchases they make will be expected to last longer and perform better, in other words they want more ROI on their investments into purchases. An amazing 60% of consumers surveyed said that they would gladly pay more for a product knowing that they were going to receive excellent, outstanding customer service from the company from which they purchased!
When I speak to sales organizations, especially those dealing with big-ticket, re-buy, perishable, products, one of the questions I ask is ” How many of the sales people in the room have your top 20 – 50 customers programmed into the contacts folder on your cell phone?” The results frankly are shocking, few if any raise their hands! Yet these same people will complain that there is no one buying. Again, I ask the question,” How many of you send your customers birthday cards, thank you cards, or call on a regular basis to ensure the customers are satisfied?” Again, the results are devastatingly disappointing.
We have come to an economy in this country when those who have purchased from us, demonstrating the ability to pay for our product or service, and who are likely to purchase again, will eventually become the mainstay of sales organizations. To treat them with the “one and done” attitude is totally unacceptable if an organization or a salesperson is to survive in today’s economy. Customer retention is fast becoming as important, if not more so, than customer acquisition. Yet companies still refuse to put resources into customer satisfaction and retention.
Customer service will become the differentiating factor between winners and losers in today’s marketplace. Companies refusing to put resources, manpower, and mission into customer service and retention will find themselves in dire jeopardy. Studies have shown that it costs five times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain a current one.
The companies that succeed in instilling a true mission of excellence in customer service and retention, throughout the entire company, not just in the sales department, but in all departments of the company, realizing that every contact a customer has with the company, no matter the department, is an opportunity to secure repeat business, will succeed when others fail.