Putting the Customer Back in Customer Service

October 20, 2011
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Let’s be honest. When is the last time you were honestly impressed by customer service you received? Today, it’s much more common to hear complaints about horrible phone exchanges, rude cashiers, and poorly informed sales staff than anything resembling good customer service. You don’t want that for your business.

Customer loyalty is important; just ask companies like Apple whose devoted buyers line up for nearly any new gadget they sell and every new version of ones they already have. That loyalty made Apple wealthier than the Unite States government!

If you’re wondering how to generate that level of loyalty with your customers, you might want to turn to the Internet, particularly social media, for assistance. Here are a couple of examples that might inspire you.

CoffeeGroundz

In addition to its cute name, this coffee shop based in Houston, Texas proved they know the secret to great customer service: listen to your customers! The locally owned business already had a Twitter account and used it to keep in touch with the regulars – a nice, personal touch but nothing extraordinary.

However, one morning a customer sent an unusual tweet: he wanted to order breakfast over Twitter so it would be ready when he arrived in the drive-thru. That one request led to a new policy of accepting orders via the social media website. Now customers on-the-go can send a tweet before they leave the house or while stuck in traffic so their coffee will be waiting for them and not the other way around.

FreshBooks

Sometimes customer service means doing something unexpected for customers. FreshBooks is a great example of this. They run a web-based application aimed at small businesses to assist them in managing invoices. Like CoffeeGroundz, they already used Twitter to stay in touch with customers. Then they got the opportunity to really set themselves apart.

A client of theirs sent a tweet about being stood up for a blind date. A company employee saw the tweet and responded by sending her flowers along with a clever note about the company’s dependability. Of course, she was touched and shared the story with everyone she knew, including all of her social media outlets.

The story helped generate loyalty for FreshBooks and increased the popularity of their Twitter community thus saving them money on their customer support line.

Although these two small companies may not have the marketing budget of a behemoth like Apple, they stood apart from their competition by going beyond the expectations their customers had for them. CoffeeGroundz listened to what a single customer wanted and made a major change to enable all of their customers to have a more convenient morning experience via Twitter. FreshBooks stood out by showing customers that they don’t just see them as dollar signs but as real people they care about.

Think about your own customers. What could you do to show them how much you value them? What changes would you be willing to make to increase their loyalty? And if you’re not willing or able to exceed their customer service expectations, remember your competition might be.

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