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Is Great Customer Service the Best Policy

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By Barbara Beauregard   |    November 7, 2016   |    11:20 AM

Most business owners spend countless hours searching for ways to acquire new customers. Unfortunately, few dedicate as much energy to keeping the ones they already have. 

To make sure your clients don't jump ship, learn why great customer service could be your best marketing strategy.

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Three in the Bush

Most business owners believe they can only grow by obtaining new customers. In reality, you have only a 5 to 20 percent chance of selling to new prospects, compared to a 60 to 70 percent chance of acquiring business from existing customers. That's a big difference that should encourage greater investment in retention tactics. But what is the best way to strengthen a relationship? In almost every situation, the answer is better customer service.

What Turns Customers Off?

According to recent surveys, customer satisfaction is at an all-time low throughout most of the country. While the reasons can vary from person to person, most agree on a few specific culprits. The Consumer Reports National Research Center recently surveyed over 1,000 adults, asking them to rate specific customer service irritants from "tremendously irritating" to “not annoying at all." After reviewing the options, respondents rated the following as the greatest turn-offs.

  • 75% - Unable to speak with live person on the telephone

  • 75% - Rude or condescending customer service representatives

  • 74% - Getting disconnected during a call

  • 71% - Unable to speak with the same agent after getting disconnected

  • 70% - Getting transferred to an agent or department that cannot help with a problem

  • 68% - Companies that hide or fail to provide a customer support phone number

  • 66% - Excessive hold times

  • 66% - Excessive phone-menu steps

  • 66% - Being asked the same information repeatedly

  • 65% - When agents offer inappropriate or useless solutions

  • 64% - Being ignored by salespeople

  • 62% - Not knowing whether disconnected or on hold

  • 62% - Not being allowed to speak to a supervisor

  • 61% - Needed option missing from phone menu

  • 61% - Poorly-functioning voice-recognition system

  • 60% - Getting a sales pitch for unrelated services

  • 60% - Pushy salespeople

Investing in Better Customer Service

If your customer service has any of these traits, it's time to make changes. Depending on your organization structure and budget, this might mean hiring more personnel, conducting rigorous training or outsourcing to an executive-level customer service provider. Whatever the case, it's clear that an investment in customer service can go a long way toward increasing your overall revenue by improving retention rates.

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