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Customer service: How to attract and keep customers

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We are all customers. We shop, we bank, we buy goods and services from a wide range of organisations and we all have an opinion about service. In recent years technology has enabled large organisations to centralise and communication is increasingly carried out over the phone or by e-mail.

When we have a problem, we want to deal with someone who is honest, friendly, reliable, knowledgeable, and trustworthy can solve our problem quickly. When asked, most people rate service more highly than the actual product and price, yet our day to day experience with utility companies, banks and other large organisations is often poor if not downright criminal.


The call centre experience

When was the last time you rang a call centre? How happy were you with the service you got? Did they make you wait before talking to you, or did they insist you repeat information unnecessarily? But it’s not just call centres. People in retail environments are often rude and unhelpful, not because they are bad people but they are often poorly trained, badly managed and working under pressure.

Yet if you listen to the people at the top of these organisations they regularly come out with phrases like “We are totally customer focused” and “Our people are our greatest asset.”

Not true. To deliver excellent customer care needs commitment from the top of the organisation, investment in training and equipment and proper management on an ongoing basis. It also requires feedback from the poor customers and staff who are experiencing the service and suffering at the coal face.


The importance of customer care

Some reasons why customer care is important were highlighted in a survey carried out by the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) in 2009. Their main conclusions were:

  • Only 1 customer in 10 with grounds for complaint actually does so.
  • Those customers who experience problems tell between 8 and 15 people about the problems, whether or not they have formally complained.
  • 9 out of 10 people who complain and have a problem that is not dealt with satisfactorily will never buy again from that supplier, or do so as a last resort.
  • 9 out of 10 people who complain and have a problem that is dealt with satisfactorily will buy again from that supplier. In fact, they rate the supplier higher than if the problem never occurred in the first place.
  • It takes 5 times longer to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.


Customer care is important! It is essential in the process of attracting and keeping customers. If you want to read more about this topic, take a look at Customer Care by Frank Atkinson.