Dude! Don’t Dis’ The Customers!!

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Author David Towler

The importance of providing great customer service

Every company cites the importance of customer service by saying how they’re a family-run company, or claiming that they’re rated number one in customer service compared to their competition. Despite this, everyone has encountered a rude or incompetent employee, run up against a ridiculous ‘company policy’ and has a customer service horror story to tell.

Good customer service actually counts for more than anything else - even price - because people care about how you treat them. We’re human beings after all. People like to be treated fairly and nicely. They’d rather deal with organizations that they like instead of ones that they don’t, even if they have to pay more to do so. People who don’t like how they’re treated will take their business elsewhere, and tell other people why. That costs you money.

Don’t believe me? An American Express Global Customer Service Barometer survey reports that “Seven in 10 Americans (70 percent) are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with companies [that] they believe provide excellent customer service.” Click here for their full survey reports for 2011 and 2014 .

But wait! There’s more! According to a survey by Dimensional Research, here’s what happens when companies don’t provide good service:

• 95% of respondents who had a bad experience told someone about it, and bad experiences were more likely to be shared.

• 81% told friends or family and 57% told their coworkers.

• 54% of respondents who had shared a bad experience said they shared it more than 5 times.

• Bad customer service experiences were 50% more likely to be shared on social media.

• Gen X’ers are 99% more likely to do this and 86% of respondents who have read negative reviews claimed that the information impacted their buying decision.

• 58% of respondents said they are more likely to tell others about customer service experiences now than they were 5 years ago.

There are many polls and hidden camera investigations identifying bad service providers. They include:

• Marketplace: Canada’s Worst Customer Service: Store Edition
• Ranker.com: Companies with the Worst Customer Service
• Business Insider: The 8 Worst Companies For Customer Service
• 24/7 Wall Street: Customer Service Hall of Shame

Ryan Block had an unbelievable experience with Comcast when he called to cancel his service. If, by some chance, you haven’t yet heard that recording you can listen to it here

Unfortunately, all of these examples are mostly subjective and anecdotal. Some of them are based on the responses of only a few hundred people. Also, if it’s true that unhappy customers are more likely to share their experiences then aren’t they also more likely to respond to surveys of this nature? However, one needn’t be able to see the fire in order to know why there’s smoke! The preponderance of the evidence correlates good customer service with profitability.

No matter how good your employees are and no matter how well you train them you still can’t please everyone all the time, but you can please most of your customers most of the time. Despite the old adage, the customer isn’t always right. Mistakes will happen and sometimes people make unreasonable demands or they’re impossible to satisfy no matter what you do.

Forget about those individuals. It’s everyone else that you need to be worrying about.

So how do you guarantee good service and minimize experiences like Ryan Block’s? You test your applicants’ customer service skills. All of us are better at some things than others and some people are uniquely suited to customer service positions. Hire people who are customer service oriented and pre-disposed to being good at it by assessing them. They’ll also be more trainable!

There are many assessment products available to help employers screen out other people’s rejects and measure real skills. They can help you determine an applicant’s suitability for customer service roles by rating things like their:

• Customer services aptitude,
• Communication skills,
• Stress tolerance,
• Training readiness,
• Sensitivity,
• Judgement,
• Sales skills,
• Drive,
• Agreeableness and
• Emotional resilience

There are also specific tools available for call centres, retail environments, telemarketers, order desks, IT support and other kinds of customer service roles. Tests like the Customer Service Applicant Inventory, Retail Store Sales Associate, the Customer Service Applicant Profile, the Employee Screening Questionnaire or the Telemarketing Applicant Inventory are just some of the options available to employers. They are also valid, reliable and inexpensive.

Employers who would rather save a few dollars on an assessment might end up losing tens of thousands from people who will never become customers after hearing about a bad experience like Ryan Block’s. Providing consistently good customer service can be accomplished by hiring the right people for the job in the first place.

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Creative Organizational Design has 100s of assessment tools designed to help employers screen out other people's rejects, assess skills, aptitude, attitude and 'fit' within an organization. For more information about the options available and help selecting the best tools for your needs please contact us.

David Towler is President of Creative Organizational Design, a firm offering nearly 40 years of expertise specializing in employee assessments and which has over 2000 different product titles available. Please send comments about this article to dtowler@creativeorgdesign.com. For more information, please contact us.

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