How do you know if you have a customer service problem?
You're spending more money to acquire new customers compared with competitors or compared with internal standards. Employee turnover is another indication.

And if you do have a problem?
Consumers aren't expecting perfection, but they want problems to be dealt with in a forthright way. Lexus had minor problems with its cars when the brand was launched. They rushed a letter of apology to every customer, then had the dealerships pick up the vehicles and bring them in for repairs.

Did that improve sales?
The ratings for customer satisfaction rose, and it had a positive impact on brand image. It was one of several things that helped from a sales standpoint.

What's the worst customer service you've had recently?
My wife made a reservation at a restaurant for an event. The host couldn't find the reservation and made my wife feel like it was her fault. So we ate elsewhere--and proceeded to tell a dozen people about the poor experience.

Published on: Feb 1, 2006