Since I have been working in publishing, or just working for that matter, I have found that there are two specific things that can really put the damper on your profit margin. The first, and most recognizable, would be a lack of cash-flow. If the money dries up, so does your ability to operate and get products out the door. When vendors, banks, and taxes (State and Federal) cannot get paid, your corporate entity ceases to exist. The second specific item is Customer Service.
The recent Chic-fil-a support was all driven by some media outlets but mostly by social media outlets. Agree with them or not, they do provide a tasty product and the ability to generate a backlash level of support gave them the biggest day of sales in the history of the franchise. Who you are, what you are, and how you operate as a company are all reflected by the actions and statements of your customer service representatives in total. Other than the CEO, and CFO, these individuals are the most important people in your organization because they deliver your corporate message to customers in the outside world.
The Social Media age is a double-edged sword. People can now reach out to hundreds if not thousands of potential customers and destroy an image in an instant. As with everything in life, there will be real customer service gaffes, and instances where a company was not completely at fault but the customer had the Social Media “Bully Pulpit” to raise the flag of discontent. For these reasons, companies must go above and beyond the base level to make a customer happy when there is a problem, or face continuous diminished sales due to a poor reputation with the purchasing public.
Now more than ever, good customer service is essential. No longer can a company deliver sub-par experiences to people who buy the products and expect to stay in business. The age of Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor, Yelp, LinkedIn and Angie’s List all conspire to immediately put companies in bad places if they do not deliver high-quality products and services. Never before has the consuming public had such a huge array of canvas to air grievances against companies that do not live up to a sterling reputation.
To survive and thrive, companies must continually get input from their customers. It is only in this way that a product will move and ensure profitability. The time to get back to the old adage, “The Customer is Always Right” is now. Treat your customers with respect and always remember that a bad experience suffered by one may mean thousands of sales do not occur in the future. The level of good will engendered should always be higher than the actual problem confronted. If a book is missing pages, give the customer a corrected copy and send another title that is in the same subject area that may be useful and interesting to them. Give them a future credit or a discount on any books in the same area that may be publishing shortly.
The main goal should be to turn a bad experience for a customer into a friendly interaction where a future purchase is assured. A certainty of a future purchase is the hallmark of Good Customer Service!