Walk the talk Featured

9:45am EDT July 22, 2002
In the mind of the customer, there may be no difference between your products or services and those of your competitors.

What separates you from the crowd, and in the mind of the client, is how you treat — and react to — the customer. The loyalty of those customers is only as good as the quality of their last experience. In simple terms, customer service is king.

To help your organization practice better customer service, Eric Harvey, president of the Walk the Talk Co., has put together a booklet, “180 Ways to Walk the Customer Service Talk: The How-To Handbook for Everyone in your Organization.”

How important is good customer service? According to a study conducted by The Forum Corp., and quoted in Harvey’s book, 65 percent of people who take their business elsewhere do so because of poor customer service. By comparison, only 15 percent leave because they find the product cheaper or because it is better.

On average, satisfied customers tell five people about the good service they received, while dissatisfied customers tell 10 about their difficult time.

Tip No. 81

“Don’t lose sight of the fact that you need your company as much as it needs you, and your company needs its customers more than they need it.”

The average company loses about 20 percent of its customers every year, says Patricia Sellers, author of “What Customers Really Want.” Maintaining customers is tough enough. Why have poor service drive them away?

According to the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, for every unsatisfied customer who complains, there are 26 other unhappy customers who say nothing. And 24 of those won’t come back.

Other tips

Tip No. 20 — “Never tell a customer that you can’t do something unless you immediately follow with a description of what you can do for them. Customer service is about doing — not explaining or rationalizing what you’re not doing.”

No. 137 — “Use the Internet. Participate in special interest groups and chat rooms that focus on customer service issues.”

No. 98 — “Give customers what they want, not what you think they ought to have.”

No. 76 — “Take pride in being able to solve customer problems. Remind yourself that anyone can handle the easy stuff — it takes a real pro to successfully tackle the tough issues. Keep a scorecard. Every time you fix a problem for someone, put a mark on your card. The more marks you have, the more fantastic you are.”

And it’s important to know when there is a problem. As Harvey says, “Complainers are great. They give you the opportunity to fix their problems and keep them as customers — instead of saying nothing and taking their business elsewhere.”

For more information or to order “The 180 Ways to Walk the Customer Service Talk” handbook, call (888) 822-WALK (9255) or visit the company’s Web site at www.walkthetalk.com.