July 26, 2017

Warning: Your Customer Service Isn’t As Great as You Think It Is


Real Life Customer Service Reviews Fell Below Expectations

If you were asked right now if yourbusiness provides excellent customer service, odds are you’d probably say you do. Right?

In fact, your customer service is beyond compare. The best.

Of course, it is.

Well, it’s that head-in-the-sand mentality that causes the disparity — like the restaurateur who can’t figure out why customers don’t like his or her “awesome” food or the shop keeper who can’t understand why no one appreciates the “quirky” over priced inventory that just won’t sell.

In reality, statistics tell us customers are generally not as happy with the your customer service as you are.

That’s what GetFiveStars.com founder Mike Blumenthal discovered when he asked consumers and local merchants the same question:

What percentage of local merchants provide excellent customer service?

Real Life Customer Service Reviews Fell Below Expectations

The numbers say it all. On average, 61.9 percent of local merchants surveyed by Blumenthal believed they offered great customer service.

Moreover, most small business owners suggested that 75 percent of customers have excellent customer service. That means the average small business owners believes 3 out of every 4 local businesses are out there offering great customer service.



Ah, but what do the customers think? It should come as no surprise by now that customers have a somewhat different view.

Blumenthal’s survey of customers asked that same question answered that , on average,  just 55.8 percent of local merchants are offering great customer service.

The most common response he received from consumers was 55 percent.

So customers believe just less than every other small business out there is offering less-than-excellent customer service.

The difference in perceptions is natural, Blumenthal said in a recent interview with Small Business Trends. It’s called a cognitive bias. After all, what small business owner wouldn’t believe he or she is offering great customer service?

But if you truly want your company to offer unparalleled service to its customers, of course , you must get beyond this natural instinct.

“If you let your biases interfere, that’s not a rational business behavior,” Blumenthal explains.

In fact, Blumenthal adds, you won’t ever know what your customers really think about your service — or anything else about your business for that matter — unless you ask them.

It’s not about fishing for complaints but more about providing a forum for your customers to talk about their experiences before they actually lodge a complaint or create a negative online review.

You can also work on the operations side of your business to really improve customer service giving your customeers less to complain about.

To take care of that mean old cognitive bias,  Blumenthal suggested telling yourself: “We’re pretty good, BUT …”

Make excellent customer service a process. Train every employee within your company to be prepared to handle any complaints.

Have a plan for addressing a low customer feedback score or negative feedback. “We need to be prepared in a systematic way. Train every employee to deal with it,” Blumenthal added.

This article is part of a series highlighting data collected by Blumenthal on small businesses, customer service and specifically, customer complaints and your response to them.

3 Comments ▼
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Joshua Sophy - Assistant Editor


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Assistant Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 17 years of experience in traditional and online media, Joshua got his start in the newspaper business in Pennsylvania. His experience includes being a beat reporter covering daily news. He eventually founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown. Joshua supervises the day-to-day operations of Small Business Trends' busy editorial department including the editorial calendar and outgoing assignments.

3 Reactions

  1. Most businesses are thrown off because the customers who have bad experiences just don’t come back. They never get the feedback to improve. They just lose the customer. That’s why you’ve got to ask for feedback and be ready to act if it’s not as good as you would like.

  2. Aira Bongco

    It is best to ask your customers about it. They will tell you what they really think about your customer service.

  3. The question that most business owners worry about isn’t whether to collect customer feedback, it’s how to collect it. The typical options are comment cards and emailed surveys but the former takes up too much employee time and the latter requires a valid email address. Consumers are willing to share their thoughts, if given the proper opportunity and sometimes, incentive.

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