Our friends at Revitalization Partners help companies make better decisions about business operations. This blog from their newsletter highlights how the quality of customer service can shift the state of the economy. It explores how customer service is more important than ever – due to a greater availability of alternatives, customers no longer have the patience for lackluster efforts, whether a bad experience happens in person or online. At Juniper Capital, as hard money lenders in Seattle, we are committed to sharing business advice that helps you achieve success. We specialize in alternative financing including privately funded construction loansprivate commercial real estate loansfix and flip loans, and more:

“It’s easy to determine the level of the economy based on the emphasis of customer service or lack thereof. Evidence shows that consumers believe overall customer service is actually getting worse. Arizona State University found that customer complaints climbed from 45% to 50% between 2011 and 2013. And, according to a 2014 study by NewVoiceMedia, poor customer service costs businesses in the U.S. approximately $41 billion every year. More and more clients are having negative customer experiences, and those experiences are translating into a substantial dollar-loss for businesses throughout the nation.

With today’s competitive marketplace, fed-up customers realize they can simply take their business elsewhere. Gone are the days when customers were forced to endure poor service due to a lack of available alternatives. The modern consumer has an almost limitless field of possibilities, all available at the click of a button. As a result, they are becoming much less forgiving of customer neglect. In fact, 65% of customers have completely cut ties with a brand over a single bad experience. And internet-based businesses aren’t immune to this new-found customer awareness, either: Roughly 60% of web users who encounter a problem (customer experience or otherwise) on a company’s website immediately leave the site and/or visit a competitor’s site. So, whether your company is B2B focused, business-to-customer oriented, web-based or brick-and-mortar, there’s no doubt that customer neglect can significantly reduce your profits.

What’s the cause of this decline in customer service? For one thing, the modern customer is more aware of what good customer service is. Companies that are consistently recognized for their superior customer service are utilizing the positive publicity a customer-focused business plan creates. They leverage transparency and social media communication to ensure potential customers around the world know exactly what kind of positive experiences they could be having. This puts a great deal of pressure on other businesses to provide equally awe-inspiring customer service. Once clients realize top-quality service is possible, they start to expect it from every business they encounter.

The almost infinite reach of the internet has made it possible for even the smallest of businesses to amass customers from all over the world. As this international customer base grows, business leaders are forced to reallocate more and more of their finite resources towards customer service. This becomes an even more difficult task to accomplish as your client base grows. Tack on the task of providing customer service across multiple languages and cultural norms, and the cost and complication increases even more.

Virtually every issue associated with the decline of customer service results from the advancement of the digital age, and no business is immune. In fact, sometimes the digital age makes things worse. Amazon has become the paragon of customer satisfaction with online shopping. And yet, even Amazon can create a serious lack of customer satisfaction.

My personal Amazon experience came from buying a product that was purchased from Amazon but was “supplied” by a supplier outside of Amazon and part of the “Amazon Marketplace”. The order consisted of two items. When the shipment arrived, one of the items was not there and the invoice stated that “would ship later”. Yet they charged me for the entire amount and gave no indication when the second part would ship. So, I elected to “return” the initial shipment.

Amazon, with its very reasonable return policies, didn’t want anything to do with this return except for forwarding emails to the vendor; stating that it had to go back to the original supplier. The Seller would only ship by Fed Ex ground. I shipped it on September 7, the company acknowledged the receipt on September 17. They finally issued a credit to Amazon on September 27th after my call to them led to a comment that “your refund got stuck in the back room in pending”. It only took a day after it was released for Amazon to issue the credit.

The result was that I purchased the product outside of Amazon and will probably never purchase anything from Amazon that they don’t ship directly. Amazon obviously does not require that Marketplace Members follow their shipping and return policies and needs to make that clear.

Simply put, as our reach and abilities have increased, the one-on-one focus of pre-internet business has declined. This is unfortunate because approximately 70% of buying decisions are made based upon how a customer feels that he or she is being treated. However, the digital age doesn’t have to mark the end of the era of customer satisfaction. By recognizing and re-committing to some essential customer service skills that many businesses around the world have been disregarding, you can ensure your customers remain happy.”

Revitalization Partners specializes in improving the operational and financial results of companies and providing hands-on expertise in virtually every circumstance, with a focus on small and mid-market organizations. Whether your requirement is Interim Management, a Business Assessment, Revitalization and Reengineering or Receivership/Bankruptcy Support, we focus on giving you the best resolution in the fastest time with the highest possible return.