The Importance of Customer Service, Part 2: In Person
Face-to-face customer service is one of the first types that comes to mind for me. This is an old school way of doing things that still has a long lasting effect if done right. No matter what kind of business we’re talking about, chances are there is still a face-to-face aspect. Even if the business provides a product or a service that is entirely over the internet, focusing solely on web design and development, for example, they might still have to meet with clients to get started or to look over a website with them. The importance of the quality of these personal interactions cannot be emphasized enough.
When one thinks about a company, they often think about the people who work for it with whom they have had interactions. They are the face of the business to the customer, a representative of all that it stands for. Whether or not these interactions were positive or negative plays a huge part in the customer’s overall thoughts about the type of company that it is. It might determine whether they think to use the company in the future when a similar need arises, or if they will go elsewhere. The product that the company offers might be outstanding, but the overall impression that someone gets of a business is really a combination of the product and the service they received along the way (before, during, and after they purchased the product). And so, a business cannot rely solely on the quality of their product–they need to focus almost as much energy on the quality of service they provide their customers, particularly when they are working with them face-to-face.
This reminds me of coffee shops. Just for the sake of argument, let’s assume we’re only talking about ones that offer good coffee. My favorite ones not only provide delicious coffee, but excellent, attentive service as well. The people working are friendly and pleasant, and never make me feel bad even if my order is super complicated. I leave not only with an amazing cup of coffee, but also with a smile on my face, because it was a bright spot of my day. And I make a point of going there in the future, and telling my friends to go as well. Bad coffee shops might have delicious coffee, but terrible service. If you feel disrespected and insulted every time you go, you’ll just stop going, even if they gave you the best tasting cup-a-joe you’ve ever had. It’s not worth it to you to feel that way just to get the product. Which is the way it is with any business if they give you bad customer service in person–it colours the whole experience of the business and makes you never want to go there again.
With any of the other types of customer service (over the phone, via e-mail, or via social media), customers might be a tad bit more forgiving. If the product itself is really good, and the service was less than amazing, they might still use the business in the future (it depends, of course). This is because they might just think that they heard the person wrong, or misinterpreted them in some way. But in person, it is much more difficult to misinterpret someone. If they are being rude or disrespectful, you know it. Which is why business owners need to make sure their business is being positively represented in the face-to-face interactions with customers. A little warmth and respect goes a long, long way.