Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
But a fair question is: In cold hard business terms, why is delivering exceptional customer service so valuable? And is it worth the investment (in time and attention) when you have other business challenges and opportunities calling out for attention?
Beware of the deadly commoditization zone
Well, not to go all Eeyore on you, but your company or brand offering is highly unlikely to be entirely unique. Most companies hover much closer to the deadly commodity zone than anyone at those companies realizes. Odds are, and sorry to say, this probably includes you.
What is the commoditization zone? It’s one of the scariest places for a company to find itself. It’s when your business is viewed as more or less interchangeable with the competition. It’s when your current customers are happy to jump ship to one of your competitors for a myriad of minor reasons:
- A slightly lower price
- A marginally faster website
- A shinier app
- A slightly more convenient location
Or, sometimes, for no discernible reason at all!
Escape the deadly commoditization zone!
Happily, there is a way you can keep your brand from becoming a commodity — replaceable, interchangeable — in the eyes of the marketplace. That solution is exceptional customer service.
Build such a reputation for customer service excellence and such a strong connection with every customer you touch that your service becomes a point of distinction, a survival lifeline and, ultimately, a powerful engine for growth.
And you’ll never have to worry about being viewed as a commodity again.
The long-term, lasting payoffs from exceptional customer service
An excellent customer experience will create multiple positive results for your business and, most centrally, the creation of passionately loyal customers. Passionately loyal customers are less price sensitive, more likely to be interested in any new products, services or brand extensions you may roll out in the future and more understanding when things go sideways. This is true. I promise! Once you’ve done so much, so well for your customers, you achieve a state where the little mistakes — and even the occasional massive blunder — are looked upon in a better, more forgiving light.
A loyal customer is your best form of marketing
There is nothing more powerful in growing a business than the ambassadorship of customers who are so engaged, so activated, that they take on the mission of spreading the good word about your company: crusaders for your brand, who share their passion for your company with their online connections and real-life contacts as well.
The customer service excellence advantage is nearly knockoff-proof
Unlike other business attributes — low cost, faster speed, location — exceptional customer service is almost entirely knockoff-proof. Why? It takes time and focus to become legendary in customer service and the customer experience. And if you get there, trust me: the odds of your competition emulating this are very low.
There’s one more benefit you’ll experience immediately as you dig into the work we’ll do together. Even before you achieve the state of customer activation, loyalty, and ambassadorship that I’ve just promised, the benefits of your new approach will make themselves known to you personally. You’ll find yourself shoring up relationships within your company and discover that your work becomes more pleasant and rewarding.
How to get on the road to delivering an iconic level of customer service
Getting on the road to delivering exceptional, iconic, loyalty-building customer service starts with a single step: Make the decision. Decide to put the customer in the center.
Once you decide to put the customer at the center of how you look at every:
- business decision
- customer interaction (including what you may consider “trivial” things, like your choice of words and phrasing to use with them)
- every hiring decision (are you hiring employees leaning toward empathy? Or are you only hiring based on existing skills and experience?)
- every staffing/coverage decision, and so forth, you’re well on your way.
Add to that:
- proper customer service training, whether delivered in person or via eLearning (this needs to start from onboarding and continue through the entire life of an employee at your company)
- creation and dissemination of customer service standards (best practices), and
- a program and plan to sustain your new momentum — and you’re going to move mountains.