Guest Post

Give Your Customers Your Best — Especially Now

by Christopher Carrington

Every area of business comes under scrutiny during times of economic crisis. Companies often are forced to cut costs and figure out ways to maximize revenue while using fewer resources. Unfortunately, customer service tends to be at the top of the list when considering how to save money. In reality, this should be the last place cuts are made. Investing in customer service during downturns strengthens companies and positions them for success when business starts to improve. It's not an easy choice and definitely takes nerve, but I've seen first hand how quality customer service drives loyalty and creates a sustainable brand that will stand the test of time.

With today's technology tools, unhappy customers can instantly broadcast their complaints to millions of people in under a minute. The decision to cut customer service limits a consumer's access to help, or worse yet, could mean unskilled workers are answering calls with no hope of solving problems. On the other hand, as one of my employees recently said, "If they get a chance to be heard, even the most difficult customers can be turned into repeat buyers."

Instead of viewing customer service as an expense line item, companies should view it as one of their biggest assets. It is, after all, the area with the most contact with customers and has the most power to make the biggest impression. As a home-based, customer service call center, our clients come to us when they're looking for bar-raising quality service. Over the last year, we've seen more and more companies realize there is a direct correlation between delivering improved service and increasing revenue. Our clients have taken the gutsy step of investing in their customers and are experiencing real benefits. In short, they’ve found their nerve.

Consider this example. One of our largest telecommunications customers was losing 2-5 percent of their customers each month to competitors. This customer churn was costing the equivalent of over $2 billion a year in lost revenue and was forcing the company to spend an additional $800 million to replace the lost subscribers. Not surprisingly, poor customer care was one of the top reasons customers cited when switching providers. After making the difficult call to spend more rather than less on customer care, this customer has seen a 33 percent improvement in customer satisfaction scores in the past year, increased revenue by $7 per call, and customer churn down by 3 percent.

While I can’t guarantee that all companies will experience such impressive results, I do believe that making the commitment to deliver quality customer service will reinforce the reasons consumers trusted your brand in the first place. With a little planning and the right partner, your company can not only survive these tough times, but emerge with a stronger brand and more loyal customers. We are doing it, our clients are doing it, and so can you.

Christopher M. Carrington is President and CEO of Alpine Access, Inc. a Denver, Colorado-based provider of call center services using home-based customer service and sales employees. Carrington has more than 25 years of business service experience. Alpine Access clients include AAA, Office Depot, the IRS and a number of Fortune 100 financial institutions.

  1. Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

    Comment by Allen Taylor — 10/26/2009 @ 12:30 AM

  2. Customer service is incredibly important, even more so in difficult times. Everything you do should benefit the customer in some way. If it doesn’t, you should be examining why you’re doing it. Thanks for the post.

    Comment by Esther Steinfeld — 10/26/2009 @ 6:29 PM

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