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Who’s really in charge of Customer Service at your Company?

I travel quite a bit, for both business and personal reasons, so I am exposed to many kinds of businesses across the U.S.  I frequent small businesses but use large companies, as well.

With rising prices of goods and services, I expect the level of customer service to be high, as well.  And it has become increasingly important to me.

In the past few weeks, I have experienced the worst customer service that I have in years— and it was from both small and large companies.

Do you have protocols for answering your phone, for greeting visitors, for trouble calls?  If you don’t, you should.   Some things don’t need to be left up in the air.

Whoever a potential customer interacts with first, establishes the impression of your company in that person’s mind.

The one incident that stands out is where my personal wellbeing was completely ignored–a rental car customer service representative referred me, as a stranded driver in a car checked out to me with little gas, to look at the rental car contract while I was standing on the side of the highway in sweltering heat trying to figure out what to do. So much for the “customer service” part of his title!  I face-booked and tweeted about the situation and had lots of followers asking what the company was going to do to rectify the situation.  I also had to write to the CEO in order to get call-backs that I had been promised.  Not good.

Other incidents that are irritating to customers, as well, are being put on hold for several minutes,  inattentive servers in restaurants, employees who put down other employees or talk negatively about their employer in front of customers, no eye contact or indication that you have entered a business, employees who are given no authority to correct mistakes made by the company, so that the customer must wait for the owner or a manager.

As you know, news about a bad experience is passed along much faster and more frequently than news about good experiences.  And with customers sharing their experiences on social media and on-line reviews, customer service needs to be a priority.

I read a blog recently by Mary Shulzhenko (published on February 18, 2015) on 20 shocking customer service facts and stats that bring more light to the importance of making customer service a priority in your business.  For example, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are treated.  That one alone should make you stop and think.

Don’t get comfortable thinking that your employees, even long-time, loyal ones, are putting the best face forward for your company.  Make certain that they are—even if you have to be an Undercover Boss.

Don’t be a business owner who keeps your head in the sand like an ostrich while poor personal interaction by someone in your business runs off your customers!  Another stat from Ms. Shulzhenko states that it costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one.

So, it’s up to you, the owner, to make sure your employees or whomever touches the customer “first” mirrors the impression you’ve worked hard to achieve for your company.

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About Patricia Brown-Dixon

Patricia Brown‐Dixon was named Regional Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region VII Office by SBA Administrator Karen Mills in January of 2011 as a Schedule C appointee of President Barack Obama. Previously Ms. Brown‐Dixon served in the federal government by helping small business owners as the Director of the Office of Business and…