Kantor column: 21st century customer service

Columnist Jan Kantor

Photo by LEXEY SWALL

Columnist Jan Kantor

Consumers have become quite comfortable with the 21st century lifestyle.

High-tech and fast-paced is what the world is about today. If your business still operates like Fred’s General Store in the 1950s, you might need to change that. Companies aren’t adapting as fast as consumers and that’s becoming a problem. Customers want speed, efficiency, technology, and instant gratification.

If you can’t offer that, they’ll find someone who can. The new world of customer service is about using technology and speed to your advantage wherever customers are concerned.

People like email, instant online chat features, Do-it-Yourself services, and good old-fashioned American representatives when they call a business. They like personal service and knowing they matter to a company. If you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. Doing right by them is critical to your existence.

Forget success, because right now it’s just about survival. Customer service is everything. People like to trust companies that they work with or buy from. Make sure that your customers can trust you. Find a way to be professional and authoritative while still being personable and trustworthy.

When people feel like they’re getting personalized, friendly service, they respond better.

Customers will still initiate conversation when it’s necessary. However, if you make the first move you’ll gain a lot more respect. The ultimate goal? To reach your customers before they need you. This is going to make all the difference in your success with them, no matter what business you’re in. If you have the tools in place to anticipate what customers will need, you will be rewarded with satisfied customers. This does many things for your business:

Improves customer loyalty;

Increases customer retention;

Gives you a competitive advantage;

Generates additional revenue

Controls costs through proactive acquisition and cross-selling

Today’s customer service model is very different from that of years past. People don’t want the same things they used to. Your business shouldn’t, either. Your focus should be on next-generation customer development and retention, which you can only do with the latest customer service methods and techniques.

Be proactive. Find your customers before they need to find you. Show them what you have to offer. Putting all your cards on the table used to mean being too forward. Today, it’s exactly what people want and need from their businesses.

Technology, social media, mobile access, and appealing to human emotion are all critical components of 21st century customer service. People want your business on their terms. Give it to them, and you will be successful. After all, your business has little to do with you and everything to do with your customers.

Things have changed, but not so much that you can’t change with them. Build a new model for customer service that starts with a proactive approach. Put modern tools and methods to work for your business. Ask your customers what they want and need, then give it to them.

With the right approach to customer service, everything will fall into place as it should.

Jan Kantor is a Southwest Florida business consultant and executive coach. For more information, or to contact him regarding workplace solutions, his website is www.jankantor.com.

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