The Importance of Delivering Superior Customer Service

Jeff Zimmerman


Nothing generates more negative perception about a company than a bad customer service experience. Do you get fired up when you experience bad customer service? You bet. And do you tell your friends about it? Probably so. With the increasing popularity of Facebook and Twitter, it's easier than ever for people to share their bad experiences with wide audiences.

Despite the importance of delivering great customer service, why does it seem as if bad customer service is so common? Ask your colleagues and I bet most of them will be able to share a bad experience from the past week or two.

Take for example one bank I spoke with earlier this week. While evaluating their pricing, they came up with a list of questions for their merchant services provider. Not only was their processor unresponsive, they also had trouble providing clear information about various charges and fees. Because the bank didn't get the help they needed, they're now looking for a processor that can deliver the true partnership experience they need and deserve.

The good news is that all of this bad customer service presents a great opportunity for companies who can deliver great customer service. The trick is to consistently deliver superior customer support. How do you do it?

Here are a few principles for creating a top rated merchant service:

1. Make customer service the entire company, not just one department.

Tony Hsieh, the visionary CEO of Zappos, just wrote a book about doing this titled Delivering Happiness.

2. Hire employees who truly like to serve others.

3.Answer the phone.

Nobody wants to deal with automated phone systems with complicated menus. They call because they need help from a person.

4.Solve the customer's problem.

This seems obvious, but many customer inquiries go unresolved. It's not always possible to solve the problem on the initial phone call or email, but you need to follow up with the customer until they say the problem is resolved.

5. Find ways to be proactive and consultative.

Many companies have a reactive mindset when it comes to customer service. They set up people to respond to calls when customers call with problems. Are you thinking of ways you can solve their problems or improve their lives before they call? Do you ever call them with an idea to help them?

6.Admit to your mistakes.

All companies make mistakes. When companies admit they made a mistake and apologize, the vast majority of customers are very understanding. What makes people crazy is when companies are misleading or vague about obvious problems and do not step up to do the right thing.

Do you have some stories you'd like to share of how you've exceeded your customers' expectations by providing top rated merchant service? We'd like to hear about them. Is your processor providing you with the service you need to serve your customers well?