Woman dressed in formal wear to go to the one cent store

I recently wrote an article in Forbes about how to get customers to pay more. The focus, of course, was on customer service and experience.

Research has irrefutably proven that customers will pay more for a better experience. Research also has irrefutably proven that customers will leave you for your competition if you don’t give them the service they expect.

One of my Forbes readers, Daniel Rodriguez, sent in an interesting comment. He said, “What’s interesting is that better service is correlated to a higher willingness for the customer to pay, but that doesn’t mean that a business has to spend more on CS to get these results.”

This reminds me of something my good friend, Kim Tucci, used to say: “It doesn’t cost much more to go first class.” He wasn’t talking about upgrading a coach seat on a plane to a first-class seat. He was talking about how, in general, doing right, in a classier manner, doesn’t usually cost much more, if anything at all. It’s the same for certain aspects of customer service.

First, the department that is often referred to as “customer service” should not be viewed as a cost center. Done right, it is what makes your company profitable. Customer service representatives save customers that are unhappy and, in many cases, ensure customers come back. Yes, there are overhead costs associated with their salaries and the equipment and technology they use. But when they do it right, it doesn’t cost. It pays. Doing it right doesn’t have to cost extra beyond the obvious costs just mentioned. To get you started with this line of thinking, here are a few ways to do it right that won’t cost much at all—at least compared to the results you gain.

  • Do it right the first time, as in taking care of the customer so they don’t have to call back and start over. One call with a customer, even if it takes a little more time, costs less than two—or three or four or even more!
  • Be nice. This was the topic of a recent Shepard Letter. It doesn’t cost extra to be nice, but it can pay huge dividends. I know… this is common sense. Unfortunately, it’s not always so common.
  • Grant authority to employees to make customer-focused decisions. This is about giving your team the authority to take care of your customers. It takes some training to show an employee how far they can go, but once you train them, let them go forth and be successful. Customers love dealing with people who can make decisions. This can be summed up in one word: empowerment.

None of these ideas cost much at all. As a matter of fact, doing it right the first time saves you money. Being nice doesn’t cost anything. Empowering employees does cost a little, as you have to train people what they can do and how far they can go, but the payoff is big. In the end, how much does it cost to give great customer service? Not that much!

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