Holiday Scorecard: Did Your Customer Service Measure Up?

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Much has been written about the virtue of turning buyers into brand evangelists. In fact, a 2008 marketing survey found that organizations who focus on customer experiences are TWICE as likely to beat their profit targets than those who do not.

The obvious question: why don’t more businesses follow the customer experience path to higher profits? It seems so easy to get this right, so why do so many businesses still get it wrong?

From my personal shopping experiences this holiday season, many still miss the boat:

1.  Positive customer service can be a powerful differentiator.  If your merchandise or service is not unique, and is available more cheaply online or elsewhere,  simple gestures like a friendly personal greeting or unexpected followup can make a huge difference. This should be a no brainer!

2.  Use Technology to delight customers. If a scan at the register could easily show my purchase history, don’t make me carry around a paper punchcard.  Have better systems, and engineer them to make my life easier.

3. Make your website/e-commerce interface frustration proof. If you can’t navigate, logon, or check out easily, neither can your customers.  (Note to the CMO/CEO: do not sign off on any web interface until you have used it personally!).

4.  Return policies: You happily took someone’s money, so why hassle them about the return?  You want them to shop in your store again, don’t you?

We all have the opportunity to provide exceptional customer experiences at every touchpoint.  The flip side of this is that any misstep can send prospects to your competition, and be broadcast for the entire world to hear.  As social influence grows in importance to the purchase decision, it also amplifies customer experiences —  good, bad, and mediocre.

You spend so much money on customer acquisition … don’t blow it with poor customer service.   Instead, design systems and policies that focus on the lifetime value of a customer – and deliver a positive experience that gets amplified through your customers’ social graph.  Setting goals for customer retention and positive word of mouth will translate to higher profits.

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About Rhonda Hurwitz

Rhonda Hurwitz is a content strategist and marketing consultant who helps mid-sized businesses develop more effective online strategies. @rhondahurwitz on Twitter, and on Forbes.com: http://blogs.forbes.com/people/rhondahurwitz/
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