The perennial significance of customer service

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It is the age of AI and block chain. New technologies and business tools spring up around us like plants in the rainy season. And in a highly competitive world, such as the business terrain is, the successful organization must be quick to learn about the newest development. Not only must it know about the latest tool, it needs to figure out how that development can aid it in providing value to its patients or clients.

However, as these developments and innovations enrich our world, there is one crucial sphere we are constantly in danger of overlooking. It is a body of practices, behaviours and skills, an orientation and mindset, which can be easily brushed aside, but only to a company’s peril. And I am referring to the profession of customer service.

To loosely paraphrase Robert W. Lucas, customer service refers to all that an organization does to ensure that its employees deliver products and services in a manner which both satisfy their customers’ needs and also keeps them coming back. And the reason for the claim in the title of this article immediately becomes apparent. If they are not coming back (i.e., renewing their subscription, making repeat purchases, etc), there is something wrong. Every business depends on repeat customers, those wonderful men and women who encounter your product or service and deem it worthy of a renewed encounter. Without people who patronize you again and again, your business cannot be sustained over the long haul. For, as is well known in customer service circles, it can cost up to 6 times more to gain a new customer as to retain an existing one.

Back to my argument, customer service is significant for EVERY business because it is the deliberate attempt to ensure that the client’s need is met through both the product/service provided by the venture, as well as by how it is delivered. While there typically are company executives or staff designated as customer service representatives (or any of a hundred other titles), an effective customer service strategy involves the entire company. It flows from the MD/CEO (or as otherwise designated) right down to the security personnel. And it binds together every department or operational unit, from human resource to marketing.

In spite of continuing technological advancement, which simplify business operations, the skills and behavioural attitudes which are essential for providing service to customers must not be ignored. For all businesses, they are really the difference between success and failure. Technological tools, business software, and strategy charts can only do so much. If we do not take the pains to ensure that customers who do approach us are well taken care of, those other resources become liabilities rather than assets. At the end of the day, the goal of business is to satisfy (and retain) the customer. Sorry, it won’t even do to merely satisfy them; we must now delight them. Where they don’t get this, they will look elsewhere.

And as we approach an election year, we should remember that customers don’t vote with PVCs; they vote with their cash.

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