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Don't Let Customer Service Be Your Downfall
Don't Let Customer Service Be Your Downfall — 

Customer service is a broad term generally used to define how well customers are served by the organizations they do business with. Our experience and observations indicate that there has been a deterioration of customer service levels in many businesses in recent years. This stems primarily from poor attention to detail and a lack of a customer-orientation throughout the business. Bear in mind that your business should be striving to provide nothing short of outstanding customer service.

It is a well known fact that customer service is one of the primary factors in a customer's decision to purchase again from a particular business. When customer service falls below the expectations of the customer, the likelihood of that customer buying again from that business diminishes. Every contact that a customer has with a business should be considered an opportunity by the business to cement a relationship with the customer.

We believe there are three key components to providing outstanding customer service:
1) hiring,
2) discipline and
3) consistency.

Let's look at each of them in more detail:

Hiring. The ability to deliver outstanding customer service is, without question, dependent upon the quality of employees hired. Employees who are not able to deal with customers effectively can have a devastating effect on perceptions of the business. And employees who cannot execute according to well-defined procedures will cause mistakes, delays and frustration. Laziness and lack of a thorough screening process are key reasons why marginal employees are hired.

Discipline. This term refers to doing things right on a highly consistent basis. A key assumption is that your business has well-defined procedures and processes that are customer-oriented and efficient. Once those are established it is essential that there be a very clear expectation of all employees involved that they execute their tasks exactly as defined. Managers must be able to hold employees accountable for meeting that expectation! When employees are allowed to deviate from the process/procedure or not follow rules, there is a lack of discipline.

Consistency. Customers cannot be served well one time and poorly the next. Unfortunately, the vast majority of businesses do not consistently serve their customers at a high level. Think about your own experiences with the businesses you buy from. How many truly deliver outstanding customer service every time you deal with them? We suspect the answer is not many, if any at all.

The inability to deliver outstanding customer service consistently can be the downfall of a business. In simple terms, it can put you out of business. There exists an opportunity for the business that can figure out how to deal with the three components discussed above. Because few, if any, businesses concentrate enough on delivering outstanding customer service, a business that understands how to do it will gain a significant competitive advantage over its competition.

Take the time to evaluate your own business in terms of the three components identified above. Does your business honestly deliver outstanding customer service at a highly consistent level? If the answer is "yes", are you absolutely certain of your answer? We have found that many businesses that thought they were doing an excellent job of serving their customers were actually falling well short of customer expectations. Don't allow your business to fool itself into thinking customers are receiving outstanding service every time they have contact with your company.

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