A Publication of WTVP

It seems quite appropriate that given the financial focus of this month’s issue, I pen an article on a subject that can literally make or break your business: customer service. The better service we provide visitors, the more likely they will return and more importantly, tell others! The corporate landfills are littered with firms who chose to ignore the impact that a consistently superior customer experience can have on the bottom line.

Businesses today compete in two major areas: price and service. Choose price and not only will you forsake any loyalty among your customers, but undoubtedly, you will be bested by another company who will beat your price.

Choose customer service as your competitive advantage and you will note a spike in customer loyalty followed by increased profitability. Simply stated, companies that are passionate and strategic about customer service—think Best Buy, Southwest, Zappos, Nordstrom—continually see their customer acquisition, retention and profits increase due to increased word of mouth and less marketing costs. The customer becomes your leading marketing channel. The essence of these companies’ success is their forward thinking, the desire to meet and exceed customer expectations, and the understanding that keeping a customer is far less expensive than recruiting another.

Consider these statistics on the potential economic impact to your business from visitors, as well as locals, should you choose to ignore a customer-centric mindset:

  1. Six out of every 10 customers will cease doing business with you and our area due to simple neglect.
  2. Each of those dissatisfied customers will directly tell nine to 12 people about their dissatisfaction, plus potentially millions more via the Internet. We may not only lose one visitor, but possibly thousands.
  3. It will take 12 positive transactions to make up for one service misstep.
  4. A loyal customer is worth 10 times the price of a single transaction.
  5. Up to 90 percent of those dissatisfied customers will never buy from you again—and they won’t bother to tell you why.

Here’s the fundamental issue when it comes to providing an over-the-top customer experience—most corporate leaders operate with a split personality when it comes to customers. Most agree that service is an integral part of their business culture, yet all too often they associate service as a cost center. In addition, these corporate titans have a roving eye and are often more interested in customers they don’t have rather than those they do have. So a paradox is created as thousands of dollars are poured into sales and marketing to lure new customers, all the while giving current ones the short shrift in an effort to minimize costs and maximize revenue. But it costs five times more money to recruit a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

So, you want to put your business on the list of exceptional companies that distinguish themselves through superior service? Here’s how you can help both your business grow along with the Peoria-area visitor economy:

Just keep in mind as your implement your service philosophy that the effort must become an all-the-time thing and not an occasional reaction to customer dissention. Don’t just focus on the first sale, but rather, all the ones that might follow. Lastly, remember the words of Walmart founder Sam Walton: “There is only one boss and that is the customer. And she can fire everybody in the company if we fail to please her, simply by spending her money elsewhere.” Our visitors will show their appreciation by opening their wallets. iBi