In light of social media and consumers who are hyper-connected to their phones and email, why is good customer service so difficult to receive? There is absolutely no reason for it and I want to share a few thoughts I have on this topic.
Consumers shouldn’t be compelled to have to write letters to corporate. They shouldn’t feel compelled to write to CEOs and VP’s to have their voice heard. They shouldn’t have to use social media to criticize a company for their inferior service. And finally, we shouldn’t patronize companies who render bad service.
But we do anyway. Why?!
It’s 2011 and just about every major brand is on Twitter and usually has a group of people who would kill to get the opportunity to avoid customer service disasters and actually listen to customers. For some, it’s as big as growing it into a command center, for others, it’s as simple as having a CEO or VP actually use Twitter and effect change in their organization.
How many more books do people need to realize that customer service is the core of business? I’m certain that Chris Brogan, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jim Collins, Tony Hsieh and every great business/management thought-leader has at least penned that customer service matters. If you’re going to invest in anything – anything – have it be in your customer service organization. From there, the people who receive great service will tell the masses about it and boost revenues for you.
I feel the train has already left the station, but I’ll say it anyways: customer service is no longer a cost-center. It’s an arm of marketing, an arm of sales and the legs of the brand. Customer service works for the consumer and the business. It’s an investment, just like you’d invest to advertise, you better invest to keep your customers loyal and happy with service.
And my opinions here aren’t solely based on my own experience.
At Infusionsoft, the place where I am the resident Community Manager, we care immensely about our customers and prospects. Each one. I wish I could share with you stories about the numerous times that we turn someone around and get their heartfelt ‘Thank Yous’ for providing stellar service, but that wouldn’t be mindful of their privacy. Every employee strives to provide the best solution possible anytime someone calls us. If you need help with WordPress, we’ll try to get you in touch with people who know WordPress. If you need help exporting out of Salesforce, we’ll help you with that. If you need help exporting all your data from Infusionsoft, we’ll help you with that, too. If you need custom integrations, we’ll point you in the right direction. It’s altruistic and genuine and yet, I firmly believe customer service at Infusionsoft is a strong suit for why business owners are making the switch.
Our CEO for instance, Clate Mask, spends hours weekly responding to emails himself responding comprehensively to customer feedback. He also hosts regular weekly meetings where any employee can share constructive ideas to improve the business or the customer experience. It’s completely non-threatening and he is a champion of great ideas especially when they positively impact our users. Our VP’s distribute and call back anyone who shares less than satisfactory feedback on our monthly surveys. This time is expensive, but I’m certain this is a calculated investment that the company is making into delivering rockstar customer service. Oh, and I can’t tell you how many times our VP’s have overridden software development processes and escalated issues for rapid resolution even if they aren’t critical. (And let’s not forget the cost of their time. VP’s are there to steer and lead the organization with strategy and always being three steps ahead of everyone else … Not responding to customer comments.)
And I can’t exclude myself, either. I am on the other side of the Infusionsoft account on Twitter, Facebook and our Blog. I make it a goal (and deliver on it) to respond to every person. Even if they don’t write to us in the same language, even if it’s critical, even if it’s just casual feedback. Every one. No customer is ignored. No person is ignored. No stone goes unturned. I do this because I care. I do this because I know what it feels like when a company treats customers like shit. I do this because I accept no less in my name.
Some might ask about the ROI of delivering excellent customer service. When customer service is embodied throughout the organization – top down or bottom up – it moves the needle. At Infusionsoft, customer service ratings skyrocketed, cancellations dropped and customer lifetime value (LTV) increased. This is the stuff that not only the company cares about, but so do their investors. A company that is healthy has no concerns over its customer acquisition and churn and that in itself is a key factor of success for subscription-based businesses.
Infusionsoft isn’t alone. It’s an increasingly competitive landscape today where many companies are fighting to provide the best customer service. Rackspace, Zappos, MailChimp, GoDaddy, Dreamhost, Pagely, etc. All these companies provide great customer service and it’s not a coincidence they are industry leaders because of it.
The next time you think about doing the absolute minimum to serve customers, remember that superior customer service is vital to earning organic mentions; it’s core to getting testimonials; it’s crucial if you want repeat customers and finally … it’s the right thing to do.
On a final note, realize that customer service used to be a thing companies and customers have feared. Leverage customer service to WOW and really impress people when they interact with your company. Then be proud to announce to the market and your prospects that you have kick-ass customer service. Customer service is an asset – don’t turn it into a risk.
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