James Willow, Managing Director of leading commercial interior fit-out specialist, Butler & Willow, talked to Business Link about why customer service should be at the heart of your business and how this approach has led the company to significant growth over 25 years.
Over the years, has good old-fashioned customer service really been replaced by artificial intelligence and other automated technologies? While it’s undeniable that modern technology has its benefits, basing your entire feedback approach on these systems isn’t good enough – it’s just ticking a box, and customer service is so much more than just ticking a box.
Customer service should never just be an afterthought, it should be an essential part of any company’s offering. But to implement a well thought-out and effective customer service process, business leaders need to have important conversations with their customers, both negative and positive. Real people need to get feedback directly from customers so it can be analysed properly and inform future decisions to improve the business.
Apple is a prime example of great customer service. If you have a problem, you can go to the store and speak to an expert about your issue and have full confidence that they will help you. John Lewis is another great example where people buy with confidence and with peace of mind, as is Virgin – which may seem more expensive initially, but when you look into everything you’re getting, it is more than worth it. All of these companies have a great after care service, so if something goes wrong, customers can rest assured it will be fixed and this peace of mind is what keeps them coming back.
But quality customer service offerings don’t just stop with major multinational corporations. All businesses, regardless of size or industry, should focus its business plans and processes around offering great customer service if they want to grow.
These days people are always worried that they are going to get ripped off. Confidence in companies and trust has diminished because many companies that offer the ‘cheap option’ are only really offering half of the package. It’s like buying a new iPhone but not being given a charger because you ‘only asked for the iPhone’.
At Butler & Willow, we are committed to understanding what customers really want by thinking about all of the extras they will need and asking the right questions. This way, we can provide them with the solution that meets all of their needs for the best value for money. By putting an emphasis on giving people peace of mind and taking the time to learn and build relationships, businesses can gain the trust of potential buyers and also gain repeat customers. This approach is what has kept Butler & Willow not just going but growing for 25 years now.
As Richard Branson once said: “All you have in business is your reputation, so it’s important you keep your word.”
In order to maintain a good reputation and improve on it, you need to gain feedback and figure out where you can improve. If you aren’t taking your customer service seriously or actually listening to customer feedback – both positive and negative – you can’t do this. Your reputation will simply diminish in time along with your business. But if you prioritise customer service and giving customers peace of mind over simply making profit, you will be more profitable in the long run.