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Customer service (or client success as we call it) is an area of business that has always fascinated me. Back when Eddie and I started Bigcommerce, I would run client success with our small team of 10 in Austin and just by being honest, genuine and empathetic towards clients, you can very quickly turn a 2 minute phone call into the highlight of their day.It seems I’m in the minority of founders when I continue to tell clients, partners, the press and our people that I truly see customer service as a profit center not a cost center. And in this brief article I’d like to explain my view.You see, technically customer service is a cost center on the books, but the absolute best (and most profitable) companies in their respective industries always invest and even over invest in customer service. All of them.Here are some of the companies that come to mind to demonstrate what I’ve mentioned above. If you’ve used their products or services I’m sure you’ll nod your head as you read the list:
- Southwest Airlines
- Virgin Australia
- Virgin America
- American Express
- Listen more than you talk. You can do this with surveys, by getting a group of customers together in person or by including a way for them to give you feedback with every order you ship. The best companies listen more than they talk. We have two ears and only one mouth for a reason.
- Set 3/6/12 and 24 month CSAT goals. Let’s say your CSAT is currently 63% and you want to get it to 85%. It might sound like a huge jump, but what if you set achievable goals for the next 24 months and work diligently towards them? You might aim for 65% within 3 months, 70% within 6 months, etc and work your way up, constantly improving as you go.
- Be the face of customer service in your business. Whether it’s you or someone else in your business, have a “the buck stops with me” attitude about customer service. When a customer isn’t happy, go out of your way to personally contact them and right your wrong. This is something that you should continue to do even as your business grows. Zappos built a $1BN business using just this simple concept.
- Model other successful businesses. Think of the businesses you buy from regularly. Which of them impress you consistently with their customer service? What do they do differently to others? Copy them and take their ideas into your business. There’s no point reinventing the wheel if you can avoid it. Tony Robbins calls this modelling.
- Surprise every customer. What would happen if, for every order you shipped, you included a handwritten note that thanked the customer for their order and included your name, photo and phone number? You know what would happen, so why not do it? Your word of mouth will go through the roof because no one else does it. And it’s so simple.
- Care. It sounds so basic (duh?), but why do so few business owners care about customer service? If you have a deep respect for your customers and are sincere in your approach, you will build an amazingly loyal group of customers who will not only buy everything you sell and tell everyone they know about you, but they will also come to your defence publicly when you do stuff up (which you will, it’s inevitable).
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