Is it a coincidence that customer satisfaction is at an all-time low and we are simultaneously experiencing one of the worst economies in decades?
Probably not. Organizations that are focused on differentiating themselves through customer experience are beating competitors that voluntarily chase away what’s left of their customer base.
Succeeding during a booming economy is easy, but it’s during tough times that weaknesses are exposed, and organizations that relied on artificial growth begin to suffer.
The economy’s in the tank and profits are down. You’d think businesses would be treating their patrons like royalty, right? Think again, when the economy gets tough, the service gets going, away. Some companies start squeezing out the last dime of profit by cutting back on critical customer-centric positions.
— paraphrased from “The Customer Service Hall of Shame,” MSN Money
Too many businesses panic when new customer acquisition decreases, and they foolishly turn to gimmicks to lure new customers to their brands. This creates two serious problems. First, when you start competing on price, you erode your margins and are forced to further cut amenities. Once you’ve acquired customers based on a lower price, it’s hard to keep them once you raise prices back up to a sustainable level.
Second, when you start relying on gimmicks, you forget to service existing customers. That leads to missed opportunities for going deeper and building stronger relationships that help them grow their organizations.
But the bar has never been lower to demonstrate to your customers that they really are important, and as a result, attract new customers by creating a positive buzz.
World-class customer service organizations share similar characteristics — higher sales growth, higher brand loyalty, more referrals, less price-sensitive customers, higher employee morale, lower employee turnover, increased profitability, less reliance on external market conditions and, just as important, raving fans among their customer base.
Plenty of these companies exist, but you typically won’t find them covered in the daily news headlines. You will, however, find 30 such stories on the following pages. These organizations are fine examples of what happens when you choose not to participate in the recession and, instead, focus on winning through service.
John R. DiJulius III is the author of “Secret Service: Hidden Systems That Deliver Unforgettable Customer Service” and “What’s The Secret.” He is also president of The DiJulius Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.