Like businesses in any sector, retailers are constantly on the search to see how they can increase sales and expand their client base. When companies relied solely on brick and mortar stores to sell their products, the most successful ones would tell you that providing excellent customer service is one of the most important parts of the sales process, and essential to ensuring customer loyalty. Times have changed, however, and with the number of eCommerce businesses and online stores on the rise, it seems as though companies forget the neglect the customer service aspect when it comes to sales—and I’m not just talking about online stores. Too often, I enter a store and leave shortly after, disappointed that I did not receive the customer service experience that I was expecting. I often judge brands on the level of service they provide and whether I’m walking in with the intention of buying something or if I’m just browsing, I expect to get greeted within seconds. I believe the representatives should have a strong knowledge of the products they’re selling, and should be able to share their knowledge with enthusiasm. Many companies allocate a large portion of their budget to marketing, however, what they need to realize is their sales representatives do just that—they represent the brand.
Although the services my company provides are predominantly digital, providing outstanding customer service is still at the top of my agenda. Unlike other digital marketing firms, we operate two bricks and mortar locations where we welcome walk-in traffic. Although we do organize offsite meetings, we encourage our customers to see our space, so they know who is doing their work. Along with being tech-savvy, creative, and well… Nerdy, my team knows that customers are our number one priority, and we don’t just provide them with a digital service, we offer customer service.
Understanding your Competitors
Before I opened A Nerd’s World on 986 Bathurst Street four years ago, I performed my due diligence and researched my competition. I googled “best web development company Toronto” and called the top 5 companies that showed up on the SERPs, and drafted a general enquiry email, which I sent to the top 10 web development firms on Google.
When I would connect with someone over the phone, I pretended to be a new client interested in a simple website. I wanted to see what the competition had to offer and because I was familiar with the landscape, I probed and asked questions to test their knowledge. Instead of answering my questions, I received “used car salesman” type pitches where they would attempt to upsell me on an irrelevant (yet very expensive) package, and maintenance plans for something I didn’t even want. My email experience wasn’t any better, and out of the ten emails I sent, only two companies replied—both of which had a turnaround of over five days.
Needless to say, my experiment soured my outlook on customer service within the creative and web industry, and I made it my mission to provide what the other companies didn’t—a great customer experience. All of our work is completed in-house by people who are knowledgeable about local trends. Nothing is outsourced—not to India, not to San Bernadino, not even down the street.
If you’re thinking about starting a new business, or already have a creative start-up, you might want to take a look at what I’m about to share with you. The following are stats about customer service, which will make you think twice about where you place your priorities.
By the Numbers
1. 91% of consumers will quit doing business with a company because of one bad customer experience.
2. 61% of customers said they would only try to contact a company once before giving up on that business. That’s a lot of lost business.
3. 50% of customers say improved interaction with service employees is their key driver to spending more with that company.
4. 83% of clients reported rude and incompetent staff as the primary reason they quit on a brand.
5. 84% of North Americans say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience.
6. 79% of online customers recommend a brand to friends and other contacts after a great customer experience.
7. 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing clients.
8. Loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
9. It is eight times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one.
10. Customers spend on average 9.5 minutes trying to reach a human via automated phone systems.
Call me old fashioned, but there is evidence proving that customer service plays a significant role in the success of your company or brand. We have a very transparent design process and encourage our clients to connect with us in person, using skype or over the phone. Collaboration and creativity go hand in hand in our mind’s eye, and we think it contributes to the success of your project. I credit the majority of our success on the level of our customer service and always follow up with our clients to ensure that they’re satisfied with our business, and sometimes just to say hello. If you provide poor service to your customers, it doesn’t take much for a bad review to end up on Google or for the story of a bad experience to spread virally. The ultimate customer experience be on every company’s list of services, and can significantly make or break your revenue, and more importantly, your reputation.
Chris A. Hughes