Customer service serves bottom line

By Sandra Taylor-Sawyer: It’s Everybody’s Business

Several years ago I purchased a big-ticket item and within a matter of weeks it malfunctioned.

Upon contacting the business, the item was serviced, but malfunctioned again.

This cycle of repair-malfunction continued for weeks.

Most folks who know me will say I am a patient person; it takes a lot to get me excited. But when I do, I am determined to find a solution. Which is what happened in this incident; the outcome was a win-win for both sides.

That business will have me as a customer for life. Keeping customers happy is paramount to business success. This does not always mean compensation; it translates to excellent customer service.

The small business owner is in a much better position to achieve customer satisfaction than many large businesses because the owner, utilizing a small staff of employees, can deal directly with the customer to immediately make decisions.

In a well-run business, excellent customer service is the result of a genuine ethical feeling — not a gimmick designed to achieve a goal.

Customer satisfaction must be in the DNA of a business. It is important the owner ensures that everyone hired has an honest attitude of service and the structure and operating procedures of the business are designed to provide customer satisfaction.

The person who sells the product must not be allowed to promise more than can reasonably be delivered. Over sale is a great ingredient for failure.

A potent competitive tool is to maintain a high standard of customer service. It is wise to remember customers are willing to pay extra or go out of their way for good service.

An integral part of a marketing plan is excellent customer service. Three basics are necessary to keep the customer happy:

• Make it easy for customers to shop for the product.

• Keep the transaction process simple for the customer.

• Make sure the customer is satisfied with the transaction.

In most businesses, more than 50 percent of sales come from repeat customers. It is estimated that over 90 percent of disgruntled customers will never buy from the company they are dissatisfied with and even worse will tell at least nine people about their negative experiences.

Attracting a new customer usually costs many times more than keeping an old one. Excellent customer service is a worthy goal and it can contribute positively to the bottom line.