They hire cheap labor to answer the phone. They install recordings to mollify people who are on hold for hours. They measure the cost of the call center and put loopholes in the warranty.
When you see customer service as a cost center, all of these steps make sense. Any money spent lowering costs seems to raise profits.
But customer service is actually a profit center, for four reasons:
First, because the customer who calls you or shows up at the adjustments window is fully enrolled. Unlike just about every other moment you’ve had with them, in this moment, they are paying attention, leaning into the situation and on high alert. Everything you do here, unlike just about every other marketing interaction you have, will go on your permanent record.
Second, because your competitors have foolishly decided to treat this interaction as a cost, the chances that you can dramatically overdeliver are pretty good. You can’t make a car that’s ten times better, but you can easily produce customer service for your car customers that’s ten times better than what most manufacturers deliver.
And third, because in our industrialized economy, people love to tell stories about service. And so the word spreads (or doesn’t) based on what you’re about to do.
Finally, it’s been demonstrated again and again that the most valuable customers are the loyal ones. While your promotional team is out there making noise to get you new customers, you’d be much better off turning your existing customers into repeat customers and ambassadors.
And so, the money you spend on customer service isn’t simply free. It actually repays you many times over.”
Customer service is an opportunity to play a different game, an infinite game of connection.
The irony is that when it’s genuine, it leads to more profit, not less.
PS it’s not so different when governments spend money on people at the bottom of the pile instead of the top. They get more back than they spend. And their people flourish.