By Susan Burke
At a recent ANA Central Region Workshop, Michael Dunn, CEO and Chairman of Prophet, argued that a customer-centric strategy remains a way for great companies to win, despite the current economic conditions. At many ANA workshops, committee meetings, and conferences, I have heard industry experts agree with Dunn, stressing that customer service is often what differentiates one brand from another. I could not agree more.
Given the economic conditions and the changing mindset that many Americans, myself included, are experiencing, deciding where to spend our money has become not only a decision about value, but also about our experiences as customers. People today are more willing to switch retailers or brands if they find that they are not being treated well, especially if they can get the same value someplace else.
Recently at a branch of my bank, I had some difficulties with an ATM machine while depositing a check. The manager of the branch was not only unable to help me, but he was also dismissive and unsympathetic in his manner. A few days later, after learning that the issue was still unresolved, I called the bank and was assisted immediately. The person I spoke with was courteous, knowledgeable, and friendly. My first experience with the bank made me question whether or not I wanted to keep my business with them, but the second experience reassured me and my problem was solved. The difference? An encounter with an employee who was efficient and pleasant.
In the past, customers may have been more loyal to a particular brand or company, but in today’s market all bets are off. Every encounter a customer has with a representative of your company (regardless of if they are part of the customer service division or not) contributes to the overall impression they have of your organization and making sure that customers view your organization positively is more important than ever right now. Stellar customer service in all aspects of your business can make a real difference in determining if a customer stays or goes.