The verdict is in: customer service is paramount and is fast becoming a lost art; good customer service, that is. Consumer Reports conducted a recent study collecting the top gripes about customer service from 1,000 random consumers and what they had to say might sound eerily familiar to something you have said quite recently.
The study broke consumers into two separate groups: in-store versus on the phone gripers. Then, they had the consumers rate their most recent customer service experience, based on a gripe-o-meter scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a miniature grouse and 10 being a serious one. The index broke down as follows:
8.9 : Unable to speak to a live person
8.5 : Too many steps to weed through the phone system
8.2 : Extended waiting times
8.2 : The solution offered by customer service didn’t help
8.1 : Too many extras were pitched
7.8 : No apology for not being able to solve a problem
6.9 : Boring hold music or messages
In store gripes:
8.7 : Rude sales staff
8.2 : Pushy sales staff
7.5 : Unable to find a salesperson 6.9 : Wait at the counter or checkout was too long 6.4 : Too long of a wait for scheduled repair person
Why is this relevant?
Any business owner large or small knows that your business is only as good as your worst customer. Granted, there is no feasible way to make everyone happy all the time, but when 1,000 people trend unhappy about the same issues, one could see where there might be a recurring problem and a clear path to fixing it.
Good businesses that last the test of time realize the importance of taking a customer’s pulse, and taking that pulse often. Checking in with your best customers and asking how you are doing to meet their needs is a powerful way to measure the overall performance of your business and evaluate your employees.
Use negative feedback as an opportunity to grow, change and improve your customer service skills. The more the customer centric culture of a company, the better the company fares in the laser-beam scrutiny of the public eye. What might be observed as a streamlined technologically forward way of doing business could be viewed as just the opposite by your customer base. And it doesn’t take the intelligence quotient of a nuclear physicist know that a business without customers isn’t in business for long.