You might have an amazing product or service. You might have done a great job promoting it, everybody knows it, they can see it everywhere and new customers are likely to recommend it. But if the customer service you offer is faulty, say goodbye to repeat customers and to long term deals. Because no matter how good, affordable, innovative, useful your product is, there always are problems! In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be, but in ours, there are. And what happens when your customer has a problem is what turns your relationship with them into a long term one. Yet here’s where most businesses fail!

Customers aren’t always looking for the perfect product or service. They’ve been around long enough to know that problems arising or not is a matter of luck. Smart customers will always prefer the company that makes them feel that if they ever have a problem, it will be solved fast and without them jumping through hoops for it.

Customer service means everything from technical support, to payment and invoicing support, to a good communication between the company and its customers.So don’t think that making sure your solution works is enough to keep customers happy. Cause if they can’t buy it in the first place, it won’t do much.

To make it all clearer, I’ll give you an example. There this bank that has amazing products. When it comes to SMBs, they simply rock; they have great consumer products as well. When you read about their products and services, you just want to sing that contract! And I for one did, on quite a few of their offerings.

But! They have email support that is useless. I’ve been in tech support, so when I have technical issues, I usually send out an email with screen shots, all the solutions I’ve tried, reference to their knowledge base articles I’ve tried, etc. I know lack of information delays the solution, so I’m willing to help get it over with. The lady I was talking to asked me to call their support, as she wasn’t able to help me. What happened to forwarding my email to someone who’s able to? I would have called if I wanted phone support.

They have misplaced a contract I’ve signed and I never got my copy! They promised to call when they found it, but never did. And I can tell you a lot about tired, annoyed and bored employees. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one, a lot of friends who work with this specific bank have had similar issues.

Right now, they handle my business account, I have a credit card from them and a savings account, plus a lot of associated services. Would I recommend them to anyone else? Sure! But I’m a special case: I work with 4 different banks on a monthly basis, I stay informed and I know that their competitors either don’t offer the services I need, or their support is just as bad. So I would recommend them, but I’d also warn everybody that customer service sucks. And that if they’re not willing to put up with it, they might as well go some place else. And trust me, the moment I find out some other bank offers better customer care for similar services, I’ll be running out the door!

The conclusion? If you want to outplay your competitors, make sure your customer service is top notch. It won’t compensate for a bad product or faulty service, nor will it help with the fact no one has ever heard of your product, but it will turn your customers into enthusiastic supporters, you’ll get plenty of word of mouth recommendation and you won’t worry about losing half of your business over simple issues that could have been solved, should you have taked the time to treat your customers as they deserve to be treated.

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