When it comes to customer service, many enterprise companies don't think much beyond fulfilling orders correctly. And for many years, that strategy was basically enough. But the economy has changed the game for a number of those companies, which now realize good customer service will mean the difference between bankruptcy and survival.
A recent survey conducted on behalf of American Express points to the importance of good customer service, for both the companies and their customers. Of the 1,000 consumers surveyed, more than 60 percent said good customer service is even more important in today's economic environment. What's more, the respondents said they would spend 9 percent more with companies that they believe provide excellent customer service.
Despite this, about half of the respondents believe companies don't do anything extra to keep their business, and about 20 percent of them think companies take their business for granted. Other survey results:
Customers believe their personal experience with a company is more important than a company's reputation or brand;
More than half of consumers believe that in the current economy, companies have not changed their attitude towards customer service and even pay less attention to providing good customer service;
Online postings about a poor customer service experience influences many consumers' decisions regarding whether to utilize the products or services of a company; and
Consumers are significantly more likely to give a company repeat business after a good service experience than they are to �never do business with a company again' after a poor experience.
Those are telling numbers. In any economic climate, good customer service can go a long way in establishing or bolstering a company's reputation with its end users. But in a down economy, good customer service is a must.
Thankfully, IT can play a large role in providing excellent customer service. Unified communications coupled with social networking can provide a more personalized end-user experience and faster response time to customer complaints and queries. Indeed, collaboration tools can go a long way in ensuring customers' needs are met in a timely manner. Exactly what a company needs depends much on the business and the customers it services, which is why it's important that companies do their homework in choosing the right technology for the job.
The fact that belts are tighter and budgets are smaller is no excuse for skimping on customer service. Eventually, the economy will get better. And customers have long memories. If your company doesn't support its customer base with excellent care during these difficult economic times, there's a good chance your customers won't be there to support your company in any economic climate.