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It is very imperative for quality customer service to be provided, especially for small businesses, in today's declining economy. Due to the worsening state of the economy, small businesses are at risk for losing their customers to mass market companies. The trend is likely to continue unless the small businesses are ready to give customers a reason to stay through their outstanding customer service. Most customers leave because of a negative buying experience. E-commerce sites have in the recent past failed customers in matters like responding to an email query. The lack of knowledge concerning the business’s staff is likely going to chase away customers (Schachter, 2006). Another factor that could chase away a customer is by holding them on the business’s toll-free line.  Thus, this essay states that, providing excellent and quality customer service is essential to a business' ability to thrive, especially in today's economy.

Small businesses are faced with challenges for engaging in activities that direct the effective flow of their goods and services to the customer. Negative buying experience is in most cases associated with a poor customer service. Though many small business claim that they value customers, good customer service is hard to come by. Good customer service goes beyond talking in a polite manner and a mere smile. Worst of all is when small businesses entirely rely on automated systems when handling customers’ needs. One on one talk with the customer has surpassed automated and/or online systems because there is direct and almost immediate response. With automated customer support systems, the time is very limited and may not provide an exhaustive forum to discuss the issues raised by the customer (Goodman, 2000).

Automated customer support systems do not really give the physical impression that is needed to stress the seriousness of the matter being discussed. Therefore, many e-commerce sites leave customers in the lurch. Thus, there is a need for the small businesses to focus their attention into the very basic things that they do in their business to retain their customers. The customer is the most important person in the business and therefore, there is a lot of effort that is needed to make sure that customer satisfaction is maintained. Small businesses are at the risk of losing their customers to the big enterprises. A customer would remain loyal to a business if they get the quality of service that satisfies their needs (Schachter, 2006).

One of the biggest essential for small businesses would thus be establishing a strong customer service. Most importantly, the business must make a commitment to quality service. All the people must be devoted to the creation of a positive experience for their esteemed customers. It is important for small businesses to go past the expectations if the customer. The customer needs to exchange their money with value. It is this value that retains them as well as the satisfaction that comes up as a result. The business needs to make sales. It is the essence of being in operation. Therefore, customers must be the concern of all business staff at whatever level of operation (Schachter, 2006).

Having a deep knowledge of the business products wins the confidence and trust of the customer. Good customer service should therefore entail thorough knowledge about services, products as well as the return policies (Goodman, 2000). For small businesses to make volume of sales and retain customers, they must anticipate customers’ questions. This will promote the business as far as customer influx to the business is concerned. They will thus be ahead of competition in the market and at the same time will be in a position to counteract the existing hard economic times. Knowing customers helps in tailoring their buying habits and needs to the approach in their service. Retaining customers will call for a feedback from them regarding their experience with the business (Schachter, 2006). The business cannot afford to lose any customer during these modern times when there are a lot of economic hardships.

Having a person to talk to is therefore better than automated customer support systems. These values cannot be fully realized through e-commerce sites. Competition is very high and especially in the current state of the world economy. One-on-one service is working very well in the prevailing circumstances. Every business engagement with the customer determines the future relationship with the business and thus, fast and immediate response is very imperative (Schachter, 2006). Respect and courtesy is very paramount. It leaves a very influential impression. These are very critical moments and small business cannot afford to argue with a client. The focus should always be on solving the customer’s problems even if they are wrong. Complaints must always be resolved in their favor.

Retaining customers would involve dealing with their issues completely and not leaving them in limbo. Callbacks and repairs will go a long way in making sure there is continued visit by the customer to the business. Customers have always demanded immediate solution. Small businesses should thus make sure that they are on the fore front in delivering this. To win their repeat business, instant solutions must be provided (Goodman, 2000). This consequently promotes the going up of business. Providing customers’ promises promotes credibility and customer retention. Apologies can always be made if it was not possible to deliver a given promise. Some sort of compensation can work well to retain the customer (Schachter, 2006).

Generally, the most important thing during these hard economic times is to focus on creating customers more other than closing sales. Salesmen on commission rely on sales volume rather than quality. Keeping a customer is however profitable than closing a sale. Getting loyal customers will effectively work more with physical contact than e-commerce sites. It is hard to get a customer and therefore, small businesses should work on modalities of retaining the existing ones and may be they can keep on attracting others in the process.

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