The Pitfalls of the Unmanaged Customer Experience

A company’s reputation is based on the customer’s experience. Fixing or preventing problems is half of the service equation; communicating with customers is the other half.

Customer service is as important, if not more important than the immediate resolution of the problem.

An integral part of the customer experience equation is people. Your employees must have the necessary product or service knowledge, great customer service skills, and the means of communicating directly with customers.

A Customer Spurned Is a Customer Lost

Here is an example: I have been doing business for many years with a local support company. About a year ago, the president created a policy of not talking to clients directly. Emails yes; talking to the techs — if you really pushed; but a conversation with any kind of manager was out.

The lack of meaningful dialog led to much frustration, and the company’s reputation was ruined. Even if it resolved the problem and provided reasonable customer service, it didn’t matter.

I now have a proposal on my desk from a competitor. The competitor’s service will cost more money, but it will get my business. The difference between the two companies is not the technical service but the customer experience. Communication skills count.

Price will always be important in a customer’s purchase decision, but “outstanding service” is the No. 1 reason customers do business with a company.

Protect Your Brand

The experience you provide your customers is your brand. You may say, “Hey, I’ve lost two customers in the last three years. Customers feel my service is just fine.”

It’s true, technical services customers tend not to leave — but does that mean you have happy customers or a good reputation? Does that mean your customers would refer you to other companies? It doesn’t.

Customers who aren’t happy —

  • stay with you until a better alternative shows up;
  • become price sensitive;
  • openly complain about your service to professional associates; and
  • look for ways to limit the services you provide.

Note: Poor customer experiences result in an estimated US$83 billion loss by U.S. enterprises each year because of defections and abandoned purchases.

Even if you’ve had a client for 10 years and have a personal relationship with management, you are not safe. Personal relationships are important, but managers have a professional responsibility to a business. At the end of the day, they will judge your company on the business service you provide.

Something to Write Home About

Customers who are exceptionally happy become loyal and will —

  • never leave you for a competitor;
  • pay higher prices for your services;
  • refer your services to other companies; and
  • look for reason to do business with you.

These are the customers you want. Customer satisfaction isn’t difficult if you provide great customer service and make the customer experience something to brag about.

Malcolm Carlaw is president of Impact Learning Systems.

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