Customer Service Levels in America

Customer Service is the hottest topic in 2016.  It is simply amazing how bad the service level has become for virtually every company type we deal with.  Whether it is a large retailer or your local shipping company with brown trucks, it just seems that nobody gets this right, and worse, nobody really cares.

The absolute lowest hanging fruit for your business, product, product idea, or whatever you have, is  to keep your current customers happy and not have to spend a lot of marketing money on bringing in new customers.  In watching my favorite TV show Shark Tank, the sharks often ask the entrepreneurs the question, “What is your cost of acquiring a new customer?”

I see this on a daily basis with the Cincinnati Bell and Time Warner Cable. The two companies spend massive amounts of advertising for new customers.  To the best of my knowledge, we really only have two options in the Cincinnati market for Internet and telephone service. While Directv is in the mix for television service, at most there are 3 good options.

It is incredible how much Cincinnati Bell spends advertising for new customers.  Same with Time Warner.  Incredibly, they just do not do a whole lot to retain customers in the way of providing good customer service.

Cincinnati Bell has mostly outsourced their phone support to the Philippines.  For the most part, this generally means that people have to call, wait on hold, and then eventually talk to someone on the other side of the world.  The customer service rep is simply going to go off a script, so if it is not your first time calling about a problem, you already have turned everything off for 5 minutes and then back on in the proper sequence.

I am not trying to beat up Cincinnati Bell,  I am just trying to make the point that they make it miserable to even have to call technical support.  Even more baffling to me is that they have no way to open a support ticket online, and then they can call back when they are available.  While they do sometimes have the option not to have to wait on the phone and receive a call back, this again means you still have to talk to someone miles away who will take 5 minutes to pull up your account, and 15 more to figure out that they have to dispatch a technician.

I could go on and on about my personal experience and how pitiful it was with their support, but needless to say, they spend a fortune acquiring a new customer and then drive them away to Time Warner Cable by having such lousy support.  Then of course the cycle repeats itself at Time Warner and then I end up back at Cincinnati Bell.  Their marketing department probably thinks they are doing something right, however it really is just because they haven’t been the most recent company to make me mad enough to switch.

So,  always remember that customer service means a lot of things.  This may not be relevant to you in the sense that you don’t provide a service that big.  But do you answer the phone when people call you?  Do you return phone calls and emails the same or next day to people calling you, either for support or potentially new business?

You may have this happen all the time.  I know I do.  Often times you call someone, say a plumbing company, with cash in hand.  You call 3 more, and still nobody answers the phone. You leave them all messages about wanting to get something installed, or fixed, or whatever the case may be.

At best, 1 in 4 will call back and generally not within a week.  Sound familiar?  This incredible lack of customer service is permeating American business and just seems to be too far gone.  It is almost like the Walmartization of customer service.

I bet in the past year you have called multiple places wanting to buy a product or service, and could not even get someone on the phone, or to call you back, or email you back.  I tested this recently by filling out a new patient form for a doctor office where I drove past their accepting new patients sign.

You guessed it, 2 weeks later and nothing. No email or phone call back, despite filling out the information on their website that I wanted to be a new patient. Their form didn’t ask me if I had insurance or not, so it’s not like they pre-screened me and decided not to deal with me. Just no response.

Another shining example is that a large company called me to bid on a website project for them. I called them right back the same day, found out what they wanted, and I sent them the bid.  I received the job and later asked their marketing manager why they selected me from the 10 web development and design firms they called.

She simply told me I was the only one who called them back.  So, my advise to you in 2016 and beyond, is call people back.  Even if it is for a service or support related call, you never know what else they may be looking for. Go out there and provide someone good service and watch the impact it will start having on your business.

How Bad Reviews can Improve Your Sales

Turning a bad review, or a lukewarm review into more sales can be easy if you know how.

It is extremely important to know that a high percentage of customers look at reviews before buying from your business or using your service. These can come in the form of Yelp reviews, Google reviews, Yahoo reviews, Yellow pages reviews, Judys book reviews, Insider Pages reviews, you get the picture.

Here is a perspective for you, I am going to show you how to turn a bad review into more sales.

Oftentimes a sale is lost because of what a bad review says. It’s not that you got a bad review necessarily, but it’s the fact you have not read the bad review and acted on it.  For example, one tip I always use for my Amazon drop shipping business is that I look at all my reviews as well as my competitors reviews, both good and bad, and then I learn what my potential customers may want.

When you see a good review that says all kinds of good things, but then says, and it would be the perfect product if it did THIS.  Or maybe someone gave a 4 star review instead of 5 because it lacked one main feature.  This is your opportunity to improve your product or service by not only reading your own company’s positive and negative reviews, but all of your competition.

By reading about your competitor who is lighting the world on fire with 5 star reviews, you will see why he is doing so well.  You might learn he is offering something that you offer as well, but nobody knows it, because you don’t have it on your website, in your sales literature, and your sales staff has no clue you even offer it, and probably tells customers no if they ask!

This might seem really obvious to you, but go ahead and check all your reviews, and some reviews of your top competition, even if they are a huge company. Read what people are saying online about your business, and your competition and see if there is something you can take away that would give you a small competitive advantage by tweaking or adding.

This has worked incredibly well for a product I have on Amazon.  Want to know what our secret sauce was for outperforming our competition?  First, we were one of the few companies who went through the hazardous materials training and were able to ship a pair of AA batteries with our product to our customers.  This gave us a nice unique selling proposition that we thought would really help.

While it definitely helped, because how annoying it is to receive a simple product in the mail only to have to search for batteries.  People buy on Amazon for convenience, which we understand so we started there.  Unfortunately, we got a bad review that the batteries did not work and were cheap, etc.  The negative review didn’t hurt us too bad since we had so many glowing reviews.

But being the good customer service person I strive to be, this really bothered me.  Not because I thought the customer was lying, but because I hated that someone had that experience and it put a damper on an awesome product I have on Amazon.

My solution to this problem was a 12 cent solution.  I did some math, and determined that if I had to send a replacement unit out and would miss out on in sales from that unit, after all costs were considered and my sale price being missed out on by sending a replacement unit, I determined that if 1 in 250 customers had to get batteries replaced, it would be the same as giving them 2 sets of batteries.

My supplier in China charges me 12 cents for a set of batteries.  So I started having them include 2 sets of batteries with each unit, lowering my profit by 12 cents per unit, but more than likely, preventing me from getting more refund requests/requests for a new unit and also preventing more bad reviews.

Now, in my product listing, I can include the fact they will get a set of batteries, plus a backup set in case the current batteries run dead at some point. I  include this in a little note so each customer knows we actually cared enough to include an extra set in the event they get a bad pair of batteries.

Simple solution I never would have known had I not looked at every review carefully, and acted upon it.  I also checked all my competitor reviews for tips and see what they were doing well, and not doing well.  Go try and it and let me know how it turns out for you and if you need help solving a problem with bad reviews, or not having any reviews, etc.

Final thought:  Are you showcasing the positive reviews you already have on places like Yelp, Google, Yellow Pages, etc?  If not, we have the perfect solution.  Call us today for more information for a very low cost solution to automatically stream 5 star reviews onto your testimonial page of your website.