The profound idiocy of seeing customer service as an expense

Sep 1, 2021

Issue #138—August 27, 2021
Yesterday as I was driving to Baltimore to help my daughter with her move, I spent nearly a half hour on the phone with U-Haul in order to get a few last-minute questions answered.

Most of that time I spent on hold, forced to listen to an endless voice recording loop of all the different things I could do online instead of bothering them with my inquiry.

Never mind that at least one of my 2 questions I knew for sure could not be answered online…and while the other could have possibly been handled that way (the fact that my pickup time would be later since I was running late), I certainly couldn’t do that while driving on an interstate highway at the same time.

Then after a 12-minute hold, I finally reached a representative who then transferred me to “scheduling”. And thus, another lengthy hold ensued with lies like “Your call is important to us” repeated again and again…

Sadly, this kind of “customer service” interaction is typical these days…and it’s incredibly frustrating. It’s just as bad with chat functions done via websites and apps, though they tend to take less time.

Now, U-Haul has a bit of a monopoly when it comes to moving truck rentals. So maybe they figure it doesn’t matter how badly they treat their customers.

But for other companies who need to survive and prosper in competitive niches, how you approach customer service can be a real game-changer. It all starts with seeing it as an asset or revenue-enhancer, not an expense.

That’s because every service interaction your business has the potential to be a deposit into the “emotional bank account” you have with your customers, versus a withdrawal.

Relationship experts like John Gottman talk about this concept all the time when it comes to personal relationships. But it applies in business as well.

What’s more, there’s research that shows a customer who has a problem with your product or service who then gets it resolved to their satisfaction becomes much more loyal to you when compared to a customer who never had an issue at all.

Funny how people work, huh?

Imagine the huge differentiator it could bring to your business–or your client’s business–when every interaction becomes a positive experience…and genuinely and authentically comes from a place of service.

It’s also important to remember that there is a whole whole older market (60+) that PREFERS to take care of customer service matters by phone.

Oh, and guess what? They also tend to have the most money to spend and the most urgent need for many competitive and highly-profitable products and services like supplements, financial newsletters, skin care, and more.

Most companies spend a fortune to bring on new customers, often at a loss. They then make the majority of their profits from repeat business.

Yet they cut off their nose to spite their face when it comes to servicing those customers.

Making time to interact with–and listen to–customers not only helps satisfy their immediate need, it opens the door to more conversations that reveal how else you can serve them.

This is where upsell and cross-sell opportunities can naturally and profitably present themselves…and be perceived as ADDING value to the customer experience (versus having the opposite effect. I wrote about this topic not long ago.)

I’d love to see a study looking at the correlation between investment in high-quality customer service and lifetime value (LTV). My bet is there’s a big connection between the two.

And here’s a way you can truly take your business to the next level. It’s from my friend and brilliant marketing consultant Michael Fishman:

“The term ‘lifetime value’ is about what you can GET from the customer. It’s a financial term that’s not customer-centric. Focus first on lifetime impact to the customer and watch what happens to LTV.”

So give more to your customers…more service, more care and nurturing, and more impact…and you’ll be amazed what kind of edge it can give your business.

What are your thoughts on the current state of “customer service”…and how do you think it can be profitably improved? Click the button below to let me know…

How can customer service be a business asset?