No, I didn’t repeat myself. There is a big difference between customer service and just service, and the truth is that no matter what business you’re in, customer service is going to be more important than service- every time.
What’s the difference?
Let’s start off by differentiating between the two. Service is just what it sounds like: It is what your business provides. Network Depot, for instance, provides IT services. A restaurant provides food services. A school provides educational services. A doctor’s office provides healthcare services, etc.
Customer service is the way you treat not only your current clients, but potential clients, former clients…basically anyone you come into contact with, whether they are the CEO of your biggest customer or the mailman. Customer service is all about how you treat people, and how you develop relationships.
The simple truth is, every single business has to deal with customers. There is not one single type of company that doesn’t depend on clients to keep their business running. So, the number one goal of every business is always the same- keep the customers happy.
So Service Isn’t Important?
Service is extremely important! You need to make sure that your company is providing quality services, because no matter how good the customer service is, if the quality of the service is bad, your business will fail.
Let’s take the example of a restaurant. You hear about this new restaurant that just opened and you go to try it. You are greeted at the door promptly, the place is clean and organized, your server is attentive and polite…and then the food comes. And it’s horrible. It’s not cooked well, it’s not seasoned well- all in all just a bad food experience. You complain to the management, who are very apologetic and polite, and give you coupons to use on your next visit. This is a prime example of excellent customer service, but bad service.
So the big question is, would you go back? In truth, you would probably go back once or maybe even twice. But if the quality of the food didn’t improve, you would wash your hands of that place, and very likely tell all your friends about how bad the food was.
The service you provide is your baseline. At the very least, you have to be providing quality service or your business will fail.
Why is Customer Service More Important?
There is a famous quote by Maya Angelou that goes, “People won’t remember what you said, they won’t remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.”
In a nutshell, this sums up why customer service is so important. You may be providing quality services, but if your customer doesn’t feel good when they leave your business, they aren’t likely to return.
Let’s go back to the restaurant example. If you go to this new restaurant where everyone has been raving about the food and the customer service is bad, you are not likely to return. If it takes a long time for your server to come to the table, if they are rude, if they get your order wrong, if they make you wait- these are all things that are going to have you leave the restaurant with a bad taste in your mouth, regardless of how good the food was.
What makes customer service so important, some would say even more important than the service itself, is that the quality of the customer service can end up influencing how a client feels about the quality of the overall service. For example, if someone were to ask you about the restaurant, you would probably tell them more about how bad the customer service was than about the quality of the food.
The truth is that people are more likely to talk about a negative experience than a positive one. According to anarticle from the Harvard Business Review:
48% of customers who had a negative customer experience told 10 or more people, but only 23% of customers who had a positive customer service interaction told 10 or more people.
That’s a huge difference.
So, if you are not paying attention to the quality of your customer service yet, you need to start. Don’t have it be footnote at meetings, really start tracking and paying attention to it. Celebrate the great customer service wins, and analyze the losses so you can figure out how to do better next time.
I want to leave you with something the CEO of Network Depot says often:
“We are in the business of customer service, and IT is just our method of providing it.”
What is the best customer service experience you’ve ever had? What is the worst? Tell us in the comments!