Monday, November 23, 2009

Great Customer Service!

Great customer service will get any business farther than almost any other factor. Take two companies that manufacture the same items. All things being equal, the company that offers better customer service will always win out in the end. And, given the relative importance of customer service in an overall business experience, even if the company with better customer service manufactured a slightly inferior product, they'd still, in the end win more customers than the competition. Because people want to feel cared for. Important.

And for me, sometimes it's in the most unlikely places that good customer service makes the biggest difference. Take fast food restaurants. My favorite? Chik-Fil-A. Yes, their food is good, especially their waffle fries. But they also offer an unparalleled customer experience. All of their employees are friendly, attentive, fast and knowledgeable. They go out of their way to make sure you're enjoying your meal, which is what the food you're consuming ends up feeling like. Your fast food experience at Chik-Fil-A rivals some sit down establishments.

And they aren't just a little bit better than the competition. They are the hands-down, undisputed king of fast food customer service, passing all pretenders to the throne by miles. Most other restaurant chains pale by comparison. At best their customer service is spotty, varying greatly from location to location, and at worst, McDonalds for one, the customer service is generally poor. Think bored, grumpy teenagers that don't look at you when they take your order and don't spit in your food only because it would impose another step in an already arduous, annoying process.

I understand you're working a minimum wage job. You may not like your coworkers. You probably don't like your customers. But don't show it! One of my greatest pet peeves is people who take their job, whatever it is, for granted, especially in the service industries.

So when you find a company that gets it, you stick with them. I don't eat fast food breakfast often, but when I do, if I can, I go to Chik-Fil-A. I'd rather give my money to companies that appear to truly appreciate it, instead of just expecting it.

Just tonight I had another great customer service experience with the Verizon Wireless authorized reseller where I bought my new Droid phone. The guy spent almost an hour with me, fixing a few bugs in my initial contract, making sure that everything was set up properly, and making sure I knew exactly what I needed to take advantage of my rebate offers. All the while an older couple was waiting for help (the guy was the only one working) and he managed to keep them happy and patient while working on my account. By the end we were all chatting, laughing, and no one felt at all put upon or frustrated.

Good customer service. Friendly customer service. Honest customer service. Those are the cornerstones of success.*

*Unless the building is a pyramid a fourth cornerstone is necessary. We'll go with free food in the customer lobby.

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