Mom and pop customer service traits—most notably doing business with companies you like, respect and trust—are surfacing everywhere as drivers of loyalty and the bottom line. To make it work, companies must invest time, resources and, yes, money.
Take that, cut-everything-you-can bean counters. They’ll slash everything that isn’t bolted down in the hopes of boosting bottom line numbers—and keeping shareholders happy. Their odious presence is proving ever-more-repulsive to companies looking to thrive near-term as well as down the road.
Forbes’ Shep Hyken makes the case for trust in a recent column: “Now More Than Ever, Customers Want To Trust Companies They Do Business With…When buying new products or services for their organizations, 72% of business leaders consider ‘Trust in the company (the seller)’ to be of the utmost importance, according to Five9’s Customer Service Index 2020 report. That an increase from last year’s number at 62%, and it trumps both price and ease of use…Even if the price is right and the service is good, if the customer doesn’t trust the company—or the people within the company—the likelihood of making the sale is low. And forget about customer loyalty. No trust equals no loyalty.”
Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it. You’ve got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I’ve still got a lot to teach you.”Gordon Gekko’s (Michael Douglas’) famous quotes in the 1987 movie Wall Street
Another superoffice.com article reinforces the importance of proactivity in the entire customer service realm. Think of it as the mom and proper grocer going the extra mile to offer a customer something before being asked for it.
Notes the article: “When it comes to Customer Support, there is a heavy emphasis on reactive communication. This means that a Customer Support team will wait until a customer makes the first move and reaches out to them before they can take action…By this stage, the Customer Support team is on the back foot, often making it difficult to realign the customer’s expectations.”
The article continues: “In stark contrast, Customer Success is about consistent, proactive engagement with customers. This means not waiting for customers to have an issue with a product and contact your team. Instead, you should be pre-empting issues and ways to achieve outcomes by reaching out to them first.”
Hopefully, in the future—when we’ve moved past all the current anger, pain and polarization on so many levels—there will be historical discussions about how shortsighted and counterintuitive today’s corporate sector has been about the basics of great customer service.
In part, that realization will tie back to one of Gordon Gekko’s (Michael Douglas’) famous quotes in the 1987 movie Wall Street: “Now you’re not naïve enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you buddy? It’s the free market. And you’re a part of it. You’ve got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I’ve still got a lot to teach you.”
A free-market killer instinct does not encourage consummate customer service, as we’ve learned through many long, hard lessons. Finally, there’s movement toward looking at the holistic nature of a company-customer relationship and not just focus obsessively on the bottom line at any cost.
As companies grow bigger and more global, customer service in many quarters is feeling more like dealing with a caring mom and pop enterprise than a mega-company. That’s clearly the attitude of such companies as Costco, which has been making me feel right at home since 1999. (Full disclosure: I’m an unabashed, biased Costcophile with an article in the August Costco Connection that addresses building and showcasing customer loyalty and service in times both good and bad.)
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Mark Lusky | 303.621.6136 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Veteran writer, storyteller and author, with 40+ years of public relations, advertising, marketing and journalism experience. Author of A Wandering Wondering Jew… and co-author of Don’t Get Mad, Get Leverage. Mark (aka The Happy Curmudgeon) is the owner of a Denver-based marketing communications firm.