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Miserable economy Makes for Happier Customers
Feb 20, 2009

The University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), after posting declines for 18 straight months showed a 1% increase for the fourth quarter of the year. Read Full Article  This positive reversal was, in part, due to the joy experienced by shoppers with falling retail prices, but further it was a refection , I believe, in peoples'  ingrained sense of empathy for those who may be experiencing difficult times. Service people reflected that empathy in serving others. This study  posts any number of reasons for this significant reversal, all of which I agree with.

However I believe also that the positive swing in returning to good service, may be the beginning of a reversal of sound service practices that have made our country a miserable nation of servers. The on-line shopping (except for the likes of Zappos and Amazon) , cutbacks in staff, off shoring of service all have contributed to this service malaise by disconnecting people in the true personal sense, one to one.  As we look anxiously for signs of recovery in our economy and  suppliers and retailers try to determine why they were hurt so badly, the  personal attention and disconnection with those they serve, has to be one of the conclusions they reach.

The Michigan study also concluded that the traditionally respected Service Excellence companies fared well.  It pointed out also that those companies who nurtured happier customers paid off in the correlation of their stock price to their satisfaction index.  In its simplest form, providing exceptional customer service and the benefits it provides does not require detailed analytics. It merely requires  senior leaders of those companies to decide that customers really matter most.  And if that is a heart felt decision, proclaimed by them and the requisite service behaviors mandated from all associates; positive change in customer service and  customer reaction is guaranteed.

Why can't more companies follow the lead of the very successful great service companies profiled in this week's issue of BusinessWeek?   Because they are unwilling to look externally and believe that customers really do come first and they are unwilling to change their behaviors to support that belief and transform their approach to service. It's really simple this notion of Service Excellence and in its simplicity lies the wonder....


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"How You Do What You Do", by Bob Livingston

 
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