We hear a lot of talk about how the recession has caused companies
to improve their customer service. In fact, this assertion is almost
cliche. And we know why. In a recession, there are fewer dollars
chasing the good and services available. This creates much more
competition for customers. So businesses need to attract them by making
changes. This usually means lowering prices and or offering more value.
We like to say the “smart businesses” sharpen their customer service
edge during a recession. And maybe this is so. But maybe not.
The smart businesses have been offering good customer service long
before this recession. They will continue to do so. And they’ll come
out of this downturn stronger than ever.
The others fall into three groups. One
is those who never really improve customer service. They’ll drop
prices. They’ll start aggressive rewards programs. And many will go out
of business. But they’ll never improve service because they don’t get
The second group will improve their customer service during the
recession. Some will still fail. But once business picks up, those
still in business, will go back to their normal mode. They’ll focus
more on new customers and on profits. Customer service will resume its
place as the ugly step sister to sales and marketing. Customer service
will (again) be no more than a job title or department for them.
Avoid these first two groups. They’re in business to make money, not
to help people. Watch and you’ll see it in their actions.They’ll
change with the wind and do whatever they think is necessary to get
your business. But they are not there to serve you.
The third group is where the magic happens. These are companies run
by people who embrace and encourage change. This tiny group will
actually make permanent changes in how they do things. They will learn
to focus on their customers. They’ll start to build a culture that
values service over greed. They’ll remold their businesses to serve
their customers in a way that is sustainable for them.
The recession will separate the good, the bad and the ugly. Many
companies will fail because they fail to help their customers. Simply
saying you deliver better customer service does not make it so.
Customers are smarter now than ever. They know the difference between a
company that exists to help them and one that exists to pick their
Use this recession as an opportunity to build a better business.
Build a culture in your company that values service and you’ll build a
company that can last forever.