If the United States is any indication of industry trends in the Western world, IT services providers, managed services providers (MSPs), VARs, and other IT professionals should take note. According to a survey conducted by the American Express® Global Service Barometer, 7 in 10 (70%) Americans are willing to pay an average of 13% more on goods and services for excellent customer service. When asked the same question last year, 58% of polled US consumers responded that they would be willing to pay more for excellent customer service. Moreover, instead of being willing to pay an average of 13% more, as they responded this year, in 2010, consumers were willing to pay 9% more for the quality customer service.
If nothing else, this trend shows that in today’s more competitive economy, a majority of consumers are using the caliber of customer service to select their service or good providers, even if the goods and services come with a higher price tag.
In the same survey, the results also substantiated that most business (60%) are not focusing on improving customer service. Today, running a successful business poses all sorts of challenges; a number of the hardships faced by business are outside their loci of control. Customer service however, is both something that can make or break a business AND is something over which every employee and employer has control.
Whether you’re a technician, a business owner, a contractor or a consultant, the solvency of the business entity for which you work is directly tied to your own financial security. By improving the service you provide to your customers, you are not only benefiting the business, but you are benefiting yourself.
It is important to remember that consumers tell others about their experiences – both the good and the bad, so every client you service is another referral, another non-returning customer, or bad publicity. The consequence of the service you provide to them is largely in your hands.
Adding veracity to this statement is Cone Communication’s 2011 Cone’s Online Influence Trends Study that stated that 80% of consumers change their purchasing based on bad reviews.
Consumers listen to each other, so being proactive about creating and protecting a business name synonymous with customer satisfaction is crucial to continued success.
We have thought about what quality customer service entails because, like you, our aim is to perpetuate a reputation of providing quality products and service to our customers.
Based on our own experience, we believe that good customer service stems from being able to provide customers with what they want when they want it. Without being a mind reader, you can predict your customers’ needs by doing some of the following:
- Be Observant. Don’t shy away from paying attention to your customer’s tones, body language, etc. These things provide insight into your customer’s experience. By being aware of your customers’ experiences, you can alter your responses to ensure a positive experience for your customer.
- Add value to your customer relationships by keeping track of information outside from name, phone number and address. For example, send them a discount card valid for the month of their birthday. Supply your customer with information they might find interesting based on previous discussions with them. Arming yourself with data (which can be stored in the Accounts window in CRM) enables you to personalizing your customer relationship
- Survey.If you are an employer, provide your customers with the option to review your technicians’ service. Not only will this help you improve your customer service, but your customers will also receive better care, you will receive more business, and if you provide incentives to your technicians, you entire team benefits from the improved customer service (Tip: if you’re using the Alerts to Customers feature to automatically send an email to the customer when the Ticket been closed, you can customize the email being sent and include a link to a service satisfaction survey you’ve prepared using the many free and paid services available.)
- Evaluate. Establish a way to measure the service you or you technicians are providing to your customers. Whether your are self-employed, part of a team or an employee, there should be a rubric you use to make sure you efforts are paying off.
- Stay informed. At the end of the day, the thing your customers desire most is expedited resolution of their problem. The more you know and the more skilled you are, the better and faster you will be able to resolve their issue. So, whether you read blogs regularly, sign up for a class, etc., remember that investing in your knowledge is investing in your future and in your future success.
So, while the majority of companies fail to monetize on the customer service driven market, don’t be afraid to improve the way you service your customers. You should stand out for being a service and quality IT services professional. By doing so, both you and your customers will benefit.
A win-win for all.
Until next time,