The importance of providing great customer service


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The importance of providing great customer service

"The customer is always right" is an age-old saying of the service and retail industry, and it's imperative to always be mindful that customers are the reason your business operates. The way in which a product or service is sold to the customer can often be as important as quality and price, and good customer service is essential to ensure that one-off visitors become regular patrons of your business.

Building rapport with your customers and exceeding expectations is key to providing excellent customer service.

Customer service in Australia

A 2012 study surveyed 1,000 Australian consumers on their feelings towards the state of customer service and compared it with other countries including the United States, Canada, France, India and Japani. It was found that 40 per cent of Australian consumers felt that their customer service experiences usually missed their expectationsii, with over a third (36 per cent) believing that companies were paying even less attention to providing good customer service than previouslyiii.

The cost of bad service

Results also show that although 48 per cent of the surveyed Australian consumers tell people about good customer service experiences all the time, 64 per cent would also frequently tell others about poor customer serviceiv. On average, a customer with a complaint will tell nine other people on average about the poor experiencev.

Gaining a new customer can cost a business five times as much as retaining an existing onevi. Unsatisfactory customer service can not only lead to losing a customer, but it will also trigger negative word of mouth affecting future customer gain and retention. Conversely, transforming one-off shoppers into loyal customers not only provides a regular flow of sales but also feeds customer growth with positive referrals and recommendations.

E-commerce and customer service

With the ongoing rise of e-commerce, businesses must also consider ways to ensure customer satisfaction levels remain high even when the entire transaction is carried out online. Ensuring that ...

  1. the buying, ordering and delivery process is efficient
  2. return and refund policies are transparent and
  3. a helpful, friendly channel of communication with the customer is maintained throughout the transaction

... are some ways to guarantee good customer service in the digital sphere.

For bricks-and-mortar businesses, the increasing competition posed by online retailers means that providing customer service that meets expectations is one of the best ways to differentiate your business from online stores. By providing superior face-to-face service, your customers will be more likely to enjoy shopping in person in your store rather than online.

As online shopping continues to grow in popularity, it's important to offer great customer service online as well as face-to-face.

What your business can do

Providing excellent customer service involves not just meeting but also exceeding customers' expectations. This can be accomplished by providing a unique customer experience and tailoring your service to the consumer's needs, as well as building rapport with customersvi.

"Having customer service assessment mechanisms built into your business operations is essential to achieve and maintain high levels of customer service" says Renna Markson, Executive Officer at the Customer Service Institute of Australia. "This could include staff training and reviews, the use of mystery shoppers and regular self and peer evaluations."

Just as important, however, is how your small business deals with customer complaints. If you can turn a poor customer experience into a positive one, not only will you avoid losing a customer and the negative press that comes with that, but you may even gain a regular who will become an advocate of your business!


iEcho, 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer: Market Comparison of Findings, American Express, viewed 20 February 2014,
http://about.americanexpress.com/news/docs/2012x/axp_2012gcsb_markets.pdf
, p.5

iiEcho, 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer: Market Comparison of Findings, American Express, viewed 20 February 2014,
http://about.americanexpress.com/news/docs/2012x/axp_2012gcsb_markets.pdf
, p.4

iiiEcho, 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer: Market Comparison of Findings, American Express, viewed 20 February 2014,
http://about.americanexpress.com/news/docs/2012x/axp_2012gcsb_markets.pdf
, p.3

ivEcho, 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer: Market Comparison of Findings, American Express, viewed 20 February 2014,
href="http://about.americanexpress.com/news/docs/2012x/axp_2012gcsb_markets.pdf
, p.11

vFair Trading 2012, Customer Service Guide, NSW Government, viewed 20 February 2014,
http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Businesses/Dealing_with_customers/Customer_service_guide.page

viAustralian Customer Service Awards, Tips to delivering customer service excellence, viewed 20 February 2014,
http://www.serviceexcellence.com.au/content_common/pg-tips-to-delivering-customer-service-excellence.seo