There is a grocery store exactly 1 mile from my front door, yet, I never go there. I generally drive about 3 miles to the competitor – simply because of their awesome customer service. So it costs more in gas and a bit more for groceries but I never have to deal with rude checkout clerks. I am not alone. 70% of American consumers are willing to spend an average of 13 percent more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service, according to a 2011 survey by American Express.
So, what does this mean for your business? As a small business owner, an unhappy customer can really affect your bottom line and hurt your reputation. On the other hand, it is impossible to keep everyone happy. So think about this…
Southwest Airlines has consistently received the lowest ratio of complaints per passengers boarded of all major U.S. carriers that have been reporting statistics to the Department of Transportation (DOT) since September 1987, which is when the DOT began tracking Customer Satisfaction statistics and publishing its Air Travel Consumer Report*.
How do they do it? They have empowered their employees to service their customers. If an employee operates in the best interest of the customer, they are operating in the best interest of Southwest Airlines. Period.
So, while policies, handbooks, and rules of operation may be necessary. Strict rules don’t fit every situation. Common sense, courtesy, and empathy should be a first priority when dealing with your customers. At the end of the day, it is always better to have a customer telling their friends , “Company X was so good about helping me, you should try them out” rather than “Company X wouldn’t help me at all, never shop there”.