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The Customer Service Olympics

20 February 2018

Frank Mirecki

Presumably, you’ve heard the phrase: “life is a marathon and not a sprint”. Well, the same can be said about providing customer service - it goes way past the sales cycle alone.

Αλλά σε ποιον γιατρό πρέπει να απευθυνθείτε; Και ποιες επιλογές θα προτείνει; Θα πρέπει να θεραπεύεστε για όλη σας τη ζωή; Μπορεί να διορθωθεί απλά με το να πάρει κανείς ένα χάπι; Θέσαμε αυτές και πολλές farmakeioena άλλες ερωτήσεις σε δύο ειδικούς: τον ουρολόγο του Πανεπιστημίου της Γιούτα Darshan Patel και τον Steven Snyder, MD και σεξοπαθολόγο από τη Νέα Υόρκη, συγγραφέα του βιβλίου Love Worth Making: How to Have Ridiculously Great Sex in a Long-Lasting Relationship.

The 2018 Winter Olympics have begun, so it is hard not to walk head-first into an analogy about physical fitness and endurance on the internet. But, I am convinced when it comes to customer service, we need to train ourselves and our employees just like athletes train for an Olympic gold medal.
Have you ever sat back while watching your favourite Olympic sport and think, “Goodness, they make that look easy”? In the same sentiment, have you ever spoken to a customer service representative and been shocked by how helpful and decent they were? Just like there are so few athletes able to clutch that gold medal, it seems like customer service that impresses is increasingly rare.
Pushing the limits of the human body to outperform your competition is the hallmark of the Olympic games. Athletes from around the world train for years to reach the highest echelons of their sport. The dedication to their craft is evidenced by early mornings, body grinding workouts and aspirations to hold and kiss that gold medal.
Your business is in constant competition, too. If not competition with other companies, it might be with other industries, or your last fiscal year. Most compete on the basis of marketing, price point or product quality and value. But there's one competition raging that many businesses overlook. Like a newly approved Olympic sport, customer service is the latest competition you can’t afford to lose. And it is time we start training ourselves and our employees like Olympians.
I wonder, if you were to call your business as a customer, do you believe the service would blow you away? Would your conversation end with your satisfaction? Many don't see customer service as a measurable aspect of business success and profitability, but in reality, the numbers don't lie. Companies with the best customer service are making more money and have a more loyal customer base.
There are the “Dream Team” companies who prioritize customer service and win the gold medal by a landslide every year. Then there are those companies that are completely unprepared for the sport. They haven’t trained, they don't have the right systems in place, and they focus on sales while ignoring retention. Let’s look at why bad customer service can be disastrous and why good customer service can change the future for your company.
The Bad and the Ugly 
1. 1.78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience. (American Express Survey, 2011)
Have you ever considered how many transactions were lost because a prospective client felt unheard, disrespected or disregarded? Studies show that more than three quarters of prospects have walked away from a transaction for these exact reasons. This means that chances are that your prospects have likely done it before - and will do it again. Customer service isn't just about problem solving after a customer has spent money with your company. It begins with the very first contact you make with a potential customer. Are you training your employees to be honest, friendly and patient? Are there systems in place to ensure that customer-facing staff are accountable for how they represent your company? Are your employees celebrated for meeting goals based on providing positive experiences to clients - not sales alone?
2. It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. (“Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner)
The uphill battle of resolving a bad experience for a customer may not seem fair, but it is reality. Preparing your entire company to live and breathe good customer service can save you and your clients from avoidable stress. For every bad customer service experience your company offers you must work twelve times harder to redeem your image. That is a whole lot of work you could have prevented.
3. News of bad customer service reaches more than twice as many ears as praise for a good service experience. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
We live in a time of unbelievable connectivity and anonymity, and your company’s brand and image is always vulnerable. It takes just one video, one recording, one social media post to go viral for your company to come under fire. Sadly, bad news travels fast and, these days, it seems to travel at the speed of light. It is exceedingly important that all departments are prepared to handle complaints in a respectful and timely manner.
4. For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent on the same issue. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
Every complaint needs to be seen as an opportunity to exhibit fantastic customer service. If you were to address the concerns of one client in a transparent and gracious manner, just think about the twenty six other clients that will also have their concerns addressed without even having to call you. Focus on customer feedback - its an easy way to win gold and the respect of current and future customers.
The Good
5. On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
This is self-explanatory. Retention costs less than acquisition. When you win the sport of customer service, you win more business and build a sustainable and trustworthy brand in the process.
6. 5-20% Probability of selling to a new prospect vs. 60-70% Probability of selling to an existing customer (Marketing Metrics)
Happy customers are generous customers. Any professional in a rates-driven industry like insurance, for example, will tell you that it is so much easier to sell to a customer who you have good relationship with than  it is to find new customers. Customer service is about building long lasting relationships with customers, period.
7. It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
Easier to sell to existing customers...and cheaper? That means increased profit margins. And all you have to do is train your company like they're preparing for the Olympics!


So what can you do about it?

Much like Olympians, it can be simple disciplines, repeated often, that make the biggest difference. And as far as Business Communications is concerned, this is all the more true.

Here are three suggestions just to get you started.
1. Use The Tools At Your Disposal to Create Smooth Onramps to Conversation
Do you know your customer’s phone numbers? Of course you do – give them advanced IVR treatment (front of the line), or better yet, have someone ready to help them with the account information at their fingertips. Nothing says you’re paying attention like “Hi Mr Smith, are you calling about the order you placed on Wednesday of this week?”
2. Use the communications channel each client prefers to use.
Modern CRM tools can easily help you to determine which communications channel (email, SMS, phone) your customers prefer to use. For example, some customers at BrantTel prefer to make email requests and rarely reply to anything else. Ensure you are responding to them in the medium that they prefer. You could also consider assigning team members to each client based on their strengths (great writer, but not so great on the phone? Email it is!) and that you’re putting your best foot forward and playing to the strengths of your team.
3. The Check-In Call
Give them a call and ask! Find out what products or services your customers are actually interested in, and let them know about how the offerings or options have developed in that area. When you’re done, indicate this in your CRM or Email Tool, and save them from irrelevant spam.
With minimal investment, you can implement strategies like this, and potentially see an Olympian response from your customers.
So stop aiming for good customer service - aim for unforgettable customer service! There's more to your business than price or sales alone. Great customer service can often be the differentiator for  companies that can't (or don't) compete on price. If the smallest country in the Olympics wins one gold medal, they are immediately validated as a competitor. It is the same with business. Make customer service your gold medal and watch it add incredible value to your company and brand.
Frank Mirecki
20 February 2018

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20 February 2018
The Customer Service Olympics

Presumably, you’ve heard the phrase: “life is a marathon and not a sprint”. Well, the same can be said about providing customer service - it goes way past the sales cycle alone. Αλλά σε ποιον γιατρό πρέπει να απευθυνθείτε; Και ποιες επιλογές θα προτείνει; Θα πρέπει να θεραπεύεστε για όλη σας τη ζωή; Μπορεί να […]

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