Monday, March 24, 2008

How Important is Customer Service?


That sounds like a dumb question: of course customer service is important! But just how important is it? I've been wondering lately as I go through different scenarios that both I, and friends of mine, have encountered over the past few months. There have been instances where the service has been absolutely horrible, yet the customer continues to support the brand and/or product. On the flip side, there have been times that it has been great, yet the customer hasn't taken the time to show his appreciation.

Let me give you a few examples. My partner spent a good half hour on the phone with a service provider over the weekend to get something done that realistically, should have taken about 2 minutes. Yet we still subscribe to that service, and have no plans of changing. A few months ago, a friend of mine had an issue with a consumer electronics product and went through a horrible experience just to have it fixed. But when the opportunity arose for him to receive another product from that same brand, he happily accepted, thus continuing to promote its name. In both cases, the all-important customer service experience was negative, yet the company didn't suffer one bit because of it.

Now let's look at the other side. I recently returned to a store with a very expensive pair of shoes that I had purchased, and a zipper had broken. Without even asking, the sales manager said to give her an hour and she'd have it fixed. When I returned, she told me to feel free to come back at any time should anything go wrong again. Wow. I left feeling on top of the world, especially after thinking that I was going to have to argue my case. I decided I would send a letter to head office complimenting the company and the manager on the service experience, but just never got around to it. I'll put money on it that, if my experience was bad, my entire mobile phone contact list would have heard about it!

Unfortunately, this is just basic human nature. No matter how good an experience is, people are more likely to speak out about something when they're angry than they are when they're happy. Think about how many water-cooler stories you've heard that praise a company's fantastic service versus ones bitching about a horrible experience. I'll bet the scale is heavily weighted on the negative side, isn't it?

Providing good customer service is important, regardless of what industry you're in. But we, as consumers, should also put some of the onus on ourselves to make a point to praise companies that do well, not only the ones that have us pulling our hair out in frustration. If the stories of good customer service spread as quickly as the tales of bad, maybe it'll encourage more companies to kick service up a notch. Why strive to improve when no one talks about the good that you do, right? On that note, I'll be the first to start: I've just sent a quick note to that shoe company to express my thanks for its fantastic customer service. How refreshing...

[Photo courtesy of http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/].

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that one! I just took the time to send a Thank You to a dealer who did great service on a vehicle for me. You are right, we never take the time to recognize good service, yet we seem to take poor service as the norm!

Sandy said...

So... where's this great shoe store?

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

sandy:

haha, I guess since I'm pushing the fact that we should promote good service just as much as we put down the bad, I should be happy to disclose the company: it's GEOX (www.geox.com).

Happy shopping!