As you well know, a crucial part of making your business succeed is to excel at treating customers right. So, I'll be sharing my thoughts and insights here on what makes for a great customer experience.
I'll start by mentioning a tidbit of wisdom from a billionaire entrepreneur about what makes for a great company as a whole, before we dig in to customer service.
The 3 P’s of running a successful business by Marcus Lemonis
According to Marcus Lemonis, who owns multiple 8 figure businesses , there are three main P's that determine whether or not the business will succeed. The "People", the "Process", and the "Product". Customer service happens to be a major part in two out of those three things, People and Process. In fact, if you're doing your job right, then you are also getting feedback from your clients on the product itself!
So how are people and process related to customer service?
Well It's the people in your company who will be engaging with your clients, whether it's yourself or your team, and the process refers to your mechanisms and the different channels you use to communicate with your customers.
So it's no surprise that businesses that do extremely well and that have longevity treat their customers with respect, often going the extra mile to make things right. And while it is inevitable for some customers to have buyer’s remorse, you too as a business owner need to be prepared for that reality and deal with it professionally without taking offense.
Customer service as a differentiator for startups
In my experience, both as a consumer and a business owner, the best customer experiences usually come after having a bad one.
Most of us know it is completely normal for your business to make an error every once in a while, mistakes happen. It is how you deal with those mistakes that define who and what type of company you are, as it may leave a lasting impression on that customer, and in turn your business.
On average, when a customer has a bad experience with a product or a service they tell seven people. A few of those people are going to tell other people. That’s your market share being eaten up, not by competition but, by your own actions!
Customer service can be one of your greatest assets and a differentiator, and particularly if you're a startup. Startups tend to be more nimble and faster, they can be a lot more flexible and adaptive to customer needs than any other established company out there.
Remember it is the fast beating the slow today, not the big beating the small.
Lebanese startups excelling at customer experience
Two Lebanese startups quickly come to mind as I write this article:
Wakilni is a last mile logistics provider for the leading e-commerce stores in Lebanon. They have also recently ventured into the UAE market as well. Since Wakilni is a local born start up, they can not yet beat the prices of International conglomerates like DHL, though they certainly try, they shine in other ways instead! Customer experience!
I, along with many e-commerce entrepreneurs happily pay a small premium to use Wakilni's services because we know the care and attention that goes into every delivery by their team. They repeatedly go the extra mile(pun intended) to offer a great customer experience both for their own clients, and even more important, and this is perhaps one place where they shine over DHL, they take care of their clients' clients.
On to Markit, which is an extremely promising newcomer in the startup ecosystem, that is simply a supermarket app. (I know you had that idea too, right?) You can order pretty much any supermarket goods. The app is very user friendly and orders are delivered promptly without errors.
Aside from having a great app and excellent all around team and processes, here's how Markit really shines in customer experiences as well.
I've relocated my home address recently, and I no longer was a part of the area they deliver to in Beirut. As a regular user of the app, I decided to send them a message and share that I just moved and if there were anything they you can do.
Lo and behold, on the same day I get a reply from one of the co-founders saying that they added my new address to their coverage area, and that I can expect a 10-15 minute delay since it is further than their normal routes.
Though I complicated their operations, they gave me what I wanted anyway, and they stood out.
Here I am now talking about them, what are the things that YOU can be doing for your business to get people's attention?
You might have noticed I keep referring to customer experiences and not customer service. There is a reason for that, a chat-bot can provide customer service today, customer experiences are far more rare and require a personal touch.
I understand how difficult some clients can be, but it's astounding how different they will react to you when you offer them a genuine experience. When you can explain a problem that happened without patronizing your client, and showing them the solution you are offering; and how despite the fact that it’s going to affect your bottom line, you will be doing it for them anyway. In my experience, your customers will be profoundly appreciative and you are more than likely guaranteed the repeat sale. That’s when you know you have a successful business.
Finally, Google used to have a motto on their corporate code of conduct, and this is actually true, it used to be: "Don't be evil".
You want to do customer service right? Be better than that motto. Be good.
... and then don't remove it from your code of conduct after you take over the world.
I'm here to answer any and all questions about this article, customer service, e-commerce, or entrepreneurship and startups in general!
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All the best on your entrepreneurial journey!