As recently as a decade ago, Dell was the preferred IT hardware provider of many consumers and businesses alike due to the exceptional service provided by the organization. Excellent products and top-notch service both before and after the sale distinguished the company from its competitors and lead to years of rapid growth. But as hardware prices continued to decrease in the PC market, Dell felt the pressure of declining margins and fierce competition, and they repurposed their customer service infrastructure. Instead of a friendly voice answering the phone, customers were greeted by an automated phone-tree and extended wait times. Support technicians empowered to solve the problem at hand were replaced with scripted support lists and procedures. One of the things that for so long distinguished the company from the competition in a positive way was diluted and diminished until all distinction was gone. Getting support from Dell was no longer any different than support from any number of other IT hardware providers.

help desk

Happy customers are key to a growing business. Are you providing excellent customer service?
Image courtesy of Flickr’s Creative Commons, user Bytemarks

Have you ever noticed that companies providing fantastic customer service are the exception rather than the rule? Zappos and Nordstrom built their businesses on the concept of exceeding customer expectations in every way imaginable. But for each example of responsive and attentive service there are dozens (if not hundreds) of company profiles detailing customer frustration and aggravation. Why is exceptional customer service so hard to come by? Why are so many organizations in the “service” business de-prioritizing the customer experience they deliver?

Why should you provide great customer service?

If your business counts on customers to provide revenue, then you are, quite literally, in the customer service business. Managing your interactions with customers and clients in a way that makes them glad they chose to work with you is not hard and the benefits are ample. As the adage goes, most people buy from the person they like the most. As a result, providing exceptional service is a competitive advantage. Making leads and prospects happy with how they are treated will often lead to the first sale. Supporting their needs and wants afterwards will make them repeat buyers. And exceeding their expectations will make them advocates for your brand or company. The difference between providing average service and great service is not nearly as expansive as the difference between average sales and being a market leader. However, the former often dictates the latter: thrill your customers and your business will continue to grow at a speed that surpasses even the most optimistic projections.

What is great customer service?

Great customer service is about listening to the customer’s needs and providing a solution that addresses those needs. The support handbook or set service protocols so common at large organizations don’t provide the latitude to support unique needs. Providing exceptional customer service regardless of your organization size means empowering your support staff to work with clients to find the right solution instead of the fastest solution. In addition to listening, great customer service is about honoring an agreement with someone in need. If a client or customer expects to hear back from a support technician by the end of the day, don’t make them wait until the next morning. If a replacement part is supposed to arrive in three days, make sure it arrives on time. Support is a contract between the customer and provider to fix a problem or address a challenge together. If your primary concern is how much money you are spending on support staff or how long your support engineers are spending with each customer, then you are viewing the customer’s needs as secondary to your own. That is a recipe for poor customer service.

Thrill your customers every time

At the beginning of the 21st century, Dell’s delivery model was days (or weeks) longer than the competition. But the customized experience and superior customer support made the brand one of the most popular (and most purchased) in the entire world. Changing your support procedure in an effort to increase profit margins or gain more control over the process certainly can have its place. But never forget that the purpose of service is to serve the needs of someone else. Instead of cutting corners with regard to the way your company treats the very people providing you revenue, why not go the other way and distinguish yourself by offering exceptional service all the time? To learn how Mosaic NetworX combines exceptional service and robust technology to deliver solutions that put the customer first, contact us today.