Great Customer Service in Challenging Times: The Differentiating Factor
No doubt you feel the pressure.
The nation is staggering its way out of a recession. We dramatic market swings on an almost daily basis.
And your employees feel the stress too. Workplace morale is lower than at any point in modern American history. Employees have had benefits slashed, wages cut, and 401ks unmatched. They’re doing the work of at least one or two former colleagues who were either not replaced during the recession or just plain laid off.
And,because of all this--as an article in a May 2011 issue of The Business Times noted--workplace productivity is plummeting. The article cites a Gallup Organization study that found dissatisfied workers are resulting in 51% higher employee turnover.
One noted economist specifically blames low employee morale for "falling sales, higher costs and lower profits."
And yet, in the midst of all this chaos, managers are trying to further differentiate themselves from competitors. They have to slice through the low morale, terrified customers and drab economic climate and still manage to do two things: 1) get more business, 2) retain current business.
How do you do it? You have to control the only thing you can control: customer service.
Customer service will differentiate you from the competition in any economic climate. However, right now, that difference is more obvious. The recession — it’s horror and aftermath — has exposed the companies that have poor customer service and spotlighted those that have legendary customer service.
The difference between the customer service haves and have-nots is greater than ever.
An article in a 2009 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek points this out: “If anything, the tough economy has made starker the difference between companies that put customers first and those that sacrifice loyalty for short-term gain. In this year’s ranking…from J.D. Power….more than half of the top 25 brands [ranked by customer service] showed improved customer service scores from last year. Among the bottom 25…scores mostly fell.”
Additional research shows that companies with high levels of customer service during the recession lost less revenue (or actually gained more revenue), than the companies that have traditionally low customer service reputations or rankings.
The recession has made the customer service rich, richer; and the customer service poor, poorer. It has made customer service more important than ever.