2012. Year of the Customer?

Happy New Year! As I reflect back on this past holiday shopping experience, I am saddened to say it left me realizing once again that there are still far too many companies who do not grasp what good customer service can do for their business and conversely even more fail to understand the impact bad customer service can have on repeat business.

Most of my recent poor experiences occurred with online merchants this holiday season. Issues I had ranged from not being told clearly that an item was on backorder to the wrong size item being sent to me (happened twice with two different merchants). For me, my frustration continues to grow not from the fact that issues occur, but how the company handles it. Perhaps this falls under the “you need to be a rocket scientist” category, but studies show a simple apology and offer to make things right goes a long way in appeasing customer service issues.

And, what’s more, according to experts, 2012 is going to be a make or break year for many businesses and good customer service may be the only thing standing between them and the bankruptcy door. Laurie Brown, an international customer service expert and author of the book “The Greet Your Customer Manual,” is among those who believe 2012 will be a pivotal year for businesses when it comes to service.

Brown, a trainer, coach, speaker, and author with more than 20 years of experience helping companies improve their sales and customer service says shoppers are just starting to see how much power they really have. “No longer do customers have to deal with unfriendly service providers, or outdated policies and procedures,” says Brown. “If they do not get exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it, they will go elsewhere.” And not only will they go elsewhere, Brown says customers can and will use their voice to out certain retailers and send other potential customers elsewhere, as they twitter and trip advisor their unhappy opinions.

Brown has come up with five key New Year’s Resolutions that she feels all businesses need to be making this this year in regard to customer service:

-       Make 2012 the year of the employee. When you treat your employees exceptionally well they will treat your customer the same way.

-       Make greeting your customer a priority. Customers have an abundance of patience, but no ability to be ignored.

-       Rework your policies and procedures to be focused to the benefit of the customer, not the company.

-       Train and empower your employees to solve problems without having to go to the manager.

-       Sincerely thank your customers for doing business with you. Let them know you appreciate them.

Simple advice, but then again the best advice often is!

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