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I spend all my working days as a customer service consultant and transformation experthelping businesses of all sizes improve and transform their customer service.
But a fair question is: why is delivering exceptional customer service so valuable in business terms? And is it worth the investment (in time and attention) if you have other business challenges and opportunities that require attention?
Related: This overlooked leadership trait makes all the difference in your ability to captivate an audience
Beware of the deadly commoditization zone
Well, not to send Eeyore all your way, but it’s highly unlikely that your company or brand offering is completely unique. Most companies are much closer to the deadly resource zone than anyone at those companies realizes. Chances are, and I’m sorry to say, that probably includes you.
What is the commoditization zone? It’s one of the scariest places for a company to find itself. It’s when your business is seen as more or less interchangeable with the competition. It’s when your current customers are happy to switch to one of your competitors for a myriad of little reasons:
- A slightly lower price
- A slightly faster website
- A shinier app
- A slightly more convenient location
Or sometimes for no apparent reason!
Related: 10 Ways Competition Can Improve Your Business
Escape the deadly commoditization zone!
Fortunately, there is a way you can prevent your brand from becoming a commodity — expendable, interchangeable — in the eyes of the market. That solution is exceptional customer service.
Build such a reputation for customer service excellence and such a strong bond with every customer you touch that your service becomes a point of difference, a lifeline and ultimately a powerful engine for growth.
And you never have to worry about being seen as a commodity again.
The long-lasting, lasting payoffs of exceptional customer service
An excellent customer experience will deliver multiple positive outcomes for your business and, most importantly, create passionately loyal customers. Passionately loyal customers are less price sensitive, more interested in new products, services or brand extensions you roll out in the future, and more understanding when things go wrong. This is true. I promise! Once you’ve done so much and so well for your customers, you reach a state where the little mistakes – and even the occasional big blunder – are seen in a better, more forgiving light.
A loyal customer is your best form of marketing
There is nothing more powerful in growing a business than the ambassadorship of customers who are so engaged, so energized, that they take on the mission of spreading the good news about your company: crusaders for your brand, sharing their passion for share your business with their online connections and real-life contacts as well.
Related: 3 Essentials for Building a Loyal Customer Base
The benefit of excellent customer service is almost knock-off proof
Unlike other business attributes – low cost, faster speed, location – exceptional customer service is almost completely knock-off proof. Why? It takes time and focus to become legendary in customer service and the customer experience. And when you get there, believe me: the chances of your competition copying this are very slim.
There is another benefit that you will immediately experience when you immerse yourself in the work we will do together. Even before you reach the state of customer activation, loyalty, and ambassadorship I just promised, the benefits of your new approach will be revealed to you personally. You will notice that you strengthen relationships within your company and discover that your work becomes more fun and rewarding.
How to get on your way to delivering an iconic level of customer service
Moving towards delivering exceptional, iconic customer service that builds loyalty starts with one single step: make the decision. Decide to put the customer first.
Once you decide to put the customer at the center of how you look at each:
- business decision
- customer interaction (including what you consider “trivial” things like your choice of words and phrasing to use with them)
- every hiring decision (do you hire employees who lean towards empathy? Or do you only hire people based on existing skills and experience?)
- any staffing/coverage decision, etc. you are well on your way.
Add to that:
- good customer service training, either delivered in person or through eLearning (this should start at onboarding and continue throughout an employee’s life with your company)
- creation and dissemination of customer service standards (best practices), and
- a program and a plan to maintain your new momentum – and you will move mountains.