Companies Need to Love Customer Service

By Laura Duggan     Add your comments

Good customer service is a great marketing tool, and makes you feel great too.

As you build your new technology company, stay lean, and meet your financial goals, be sure that your strategy has built in great customer service. If you are not committed to customer service from the start, there is no way your startup will get beyond first base.

Great customer service is your marketing secret weapon. When you delight customers, they tell others. This drives business to you. Conversely, it only takes one wrong move to alienate a customer for good, and along with that, their entire network of allies. It is amazing. Just think of it at a personal level. People are nice to you over and over, and you take it for granted. One day, someone hurts your feelings in some way, or does something that is lacking integrity, and you never forget it.

Another boon of being in touch with your customers is that you learn what will make your product or service better. Having an open channel for interacting with your customers gives you a real pulse on the product and how it is working. There is no better tool for designing features and changes that are worthwhile than good customer feedback.

Finally, you feel good when you can be helpful to someone. The ability to help solve a person’s problem, or at least commiserate with them, gives you a feeling of being part of the human race, rather than hiding behind the impersonal technology wall.

What are some of the ways you can build good customer service into your system? Here are the things that work for us:

-    On-line chat with a customer service rep rates number one for us. As a user of SaaS products, we are usually on-line anyway. Being able to immediately report our difficulty and get a resolution allows us to stay on task. Email is second best, and works as long as the response to the email is timely and accurate.
-    Offering refunds when mistakes are made. The old adage “the customer is always right” is a hard pill to swallow as a business, but there is nothing that makes a customer happier than being given the benefit of the doubt.
-    Honesty ranks quite high. If there is a feature that is missing, and it is not going to be available, don’t make up some story. Just tell the customer that it is not something you will be able to do in the foreseeable future. You may lose their business, but they can’t get you for deceptive practices.
-    Make on-line feedback easy, and respond to the feedback if possible. There can be a lot of white noise coming in through on-line feedback. However, especially when you are in the beta stage, acknowledging the feedback will encourage your customers to give you more. A simple acknowledgement like, “Thanks for pointing that out; we’ll look into it” is hugely satisfying to the customer.

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