National Customer Service Week is an annual event that occurs in the first week of October each year and highlights the importance and benefits of providing good customer service.

In an era where everything is much the same, the one thing that sets a firm apart from its competitors is providing excellent customer service regardless of any difficulties that they may encounter.

FIRMS THAT GET IT RIGHT

A firm that springs to mind as the benchmark for me is Marks and Spencer. I do not know of anyone personally who has had a bad experience, they have a ‘no quibble’ service and they know that their reputation is everything.

Whilst I am aware that Marks and Spencer is struggling on the high street for a variety of reasons, a family friend received a textbook response to flowers that only lasted a couple of days.

I spoke about Jet2 and Lookers in a breakfast interview with Lady Janey and how they set the benchmark for others to aspire to.

FIRMS THAT GET IT WRONG

Contrast that with the bunch of amateurs that I had the misfortune to deal with in Edinburgh regarding concerns on a scooter service that were ignored, even when I escalated it to the brand they represent.

I explained my experience in fine detail for the benefit of the Area Manager of this well known manufacturer of cars and motorbikes. One bad experience can go viral via social media within minutes and consumers are becoming increasingly savvy on how to seek redress, yet that point was lost here.

Firms that do not deliver good customer service consistently will eventually find that they have no customers to keep them in business. We only have to look at Thomas Cook to see how that worked out, whereas Jet2 are thriving and expanding routes year-on-year.

Car dealerships seem to attract the most complaints, and some experiences that I have seen defy belief. Can you imagine putting your car in for a service / repairs, having it stolen from the premises by ram-raiders and being fobbed off by the dealership who refuse to accept responsibility?

THE BENEFITS OF COMPLAINING EFFECTIVELY

Every firm should see complaints and concerns as an opportunity to address any deficiencies, raise their game, manage customer retention, increase sales and actually recognise that they have a problem or a missing link within their organisation.

FEEDBACK

One way of doing this is to employ professional Mystery Shoppers, although some firms simply don’t care and rely on the fact that they have a monopoly to carry them through. However, in the world of social media, forums and review websites, bad news travels far faster than good news and managing complaints in a timely and professional manner saves a lot of time, resources, money and reputational risk and damage. How far you go in trying to put things right can make a huge difference.

Another way to look for creative feedback is to invite those that have had a bad experience back to their premises and ask them for their thoughts and feedback. This may be seen as a risky strategy as (they) are going to meet people who have annoyed them and have taken up their time, but what have they got to lose? They have lost a customer, but the feedback that they will happily provide is invaluable.

PUTTING THINGS RIGHT

One thing that every firm should (and usually) does is to always respond to customers, and that is what astounded me with this franchise that I had the misfortune to deal with. I gave them feedback, information and various opportunities that were invaluable to their business to improve their sales if they weren’t so pig ignorant and cavalier to realise it at the time.

Consumers know that things can go wrong. It’s how a complaint is dealt with and remedied is what matters and makes all the difference.

Some positive and creative thinking about dealing with complaints and feedback can improve the customer experience, service and sales beyond measure.

National Customer Service Week shines a spotlight on this, although we shouldn’t need an event to highlight why good customer service is important.

What good or bad experiences have you had? What was the outcome?

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