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 stays open. The way in which a product or service is sold to a 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 2017 study by CPM surveyed 500 Australian consumers on their feelings towards the state of customer service, and how it affected their purchase behaviour.i The study found that 72% of Australians believe Australian companies do not place high importance on providing excellent customer service. Customers prioritise access to human representatives who are knowledgeable and provide the correct information. As well as this, 61% of customers want their query to be resolved on their first attempt.

The cost of bad service

The study found that 1/3 of those surveyed had stopped shopping at a company because of its poor customer service, demonstrating the importance of customer service to your revenue.i

Not only that, 79% of disappointed customers share their experiences, so word of bad customer service can spread like wildfire. Treating a customer well however can result in positive word of mouth, with 72% also sharing their good experiences.

Gaining a new customer can cost a business five times as much as retaining an existing oneii, so it pays to look after customers who you’ve already converted, and make sure your repeat sale rate is high. Customers should be able to access customer service in the channel that suits them, including phone, email, or even face to face.i

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...

... 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

The key to good customer service is building friendly and positive relationships with your customers.iii This is true even if your customers are buying your products online. Channels such as email, chat, and even your onsite experience, are still great ways to connect with those who buy from you.

It is worth taking the time to understand your customer’s expectations, and follow up on both the positive and negative feedback your business may receive. It’s important to make sure you consider customer service in all areas of your business, and continually look for ways to improve.iii

Just as important as making a great first impression, is how your small business deals with customer complaints (author note: link pending republishing of the customer complaints article). If you can turn a poor customer experience into a positive one, not only will you avoid losing a customer and creating negative word of mouth, but you may even gain a regular who will become an advocate of your business!

i CPM - Aus, 2017, The State of Customer Service in Australia, viewed 27 February 2017

ii MyCustomer, 2017, Infographic: Customer Acquisition vs Retention Costs

iii Business Queensland, Principles of Good Customer Service, viewed 27 February 2017