April 14, 2014

Science of Customer Service: how companies live or die by this fundamental principal.

Customer service. 

We hear about it all the time, we experience bad customer service most often, and we remember good customer service when we experience it... as customers. What has always confused me, as a logical minded scientist, is how obvious it is to me that excellent customer service must be a corner stone for any company that wants to exist past the first year of sales beyond its first time customers. That is, when the company or product is simply the new kid on the block. 

I see companies falling into three categories:

  1. New companies that never understood customer service at all, they have plenty of sales for the first few years but this just covers start-up costs and then they  go over the cliff. They never quite meet their operational costs and obligations to investors, and die.
  2. Companies that grow their operations and locations with an initially good reputation for customer service, and actually last for 10 to 20 years. However, along the way of turning in to a larger national chain, they forget about the customer service that made their flagship store successful and then they too tank and perish. 
  3. Companies that last several decades, but clearly understand that any ambitions to grow must never ever, ever, compromise customer service or customer happiness with their products or services. These companies can last a very long time and adapt with changing times, generation after generation. Disney, and Tim Hortons currently does this very well.
Then, some years ago, I was listening to CBC radio, and delighted to discover a show by Terry O'Reilly, called the the Art of Pursuation. Mr O'Reilly has been in the business of marketing long enough to learn and observe many lessons in both good and bad marketing. Events that have killed some companies and brands and events that have established other brands for the long term with their customer base. 

Mr O'Reilly, is being a good marketing scientist in my opinion, because he has figured out the value of simply quietly observing and discovering patterns. In Mr O'Reilly's latest series about marketing and advertising on CBC radio called "Under the Influence", he most recently reviewed some of his current favorite books with valuable lessons in customer service. My favorite quote from the book episode, from Mr O'Rielly, is: "The best books about marketing are not about marketing, they are about life". 

I highly recommend this radio show to anyone in almost any field, because the lessons of  good marketing, good management of staff, good teaching (for us professors), and good customer service are communicated clearly and cleverly by Terry O' Reilly.

You can listen to his various episodes anytime at:

If you are actually in marketing, communications, a student of marketing or business, running your own small business, a Tim Hortons franchise, or a large multinational company, then there are valuable gems about customer service you need to understand. 

I highly recommend you listen to this particular episode:

"Tales of Customer Service

Do you feel you sell a good product or service, but you are struggling? Maybe its how you REALLY treat or do not treat your customers. Check out the radio show, you can listen to it any time while doing all that paper work that is killing you as you try to manage your business. 

Good luck out there.

Ken Mitton

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