What makes you great in the eyes of your customer?

It could be your product or service but more often than not, it’s the way your customer service professionals engage with your customers.  They form a customer’s initial and lasting impression of your brand and may be the only interaction a customer may have with your company.  In short, they can make you or break you.

Social media have given consumers a virtually unrestricted pulpit from which to deliver both the good and bad news about you.  In fact, studies have shown that over 25% of consumers will gladly share their unpleasant episodes via social media, where millions can view those experiences in just a matter of seconds.  Furthermore, these bad customer experiences have a detrimental impact on the bottom line in terms of lost revenue from lost customers, and increased expenses in customer recovery programs.

On the flip side, other surveys suggest that customers are willing to pay a premium in exchange for a great customer experience.  This implies that customers ascribe value to customer service and therefore companies that invest in it will be rewarded with increased revenues.  Cross-channel excellence and consistency is essential.  A customer should expect the same level and quality of service no matter what medium is chosen – face-to-face, phone, e-mail, chat, Twitter, Facebook, etc…

Providing excellent customer service depends on motivated, well-trained and enthusiastic employees.  Can providing superior service be taught or is it more likely that customer service stars have some innate qualities – an emotional affect, if you will – that makes them more likely to provide good service and more receptive to training?

Whether it’s an innate trait or a learned behavior, it’s important to identify job applicants who are likely to be practitioners of excellent customer service very early in the hiring cycle.  Building great products is only part of the battle.  Build a great customer experience and you will elevate your brand well above your competitors.   

An excellent customer satisfaction resource is the American Customer Satisfaction Index (http://www.theacsi.org), which surveys end customers about their experiences.  How does your company or industry stack up?

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