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The Big Lie: Customers Want Service

By Garrison Wynn

Customers don’t want service! Customers want things that don’t need any service. They want maintenance-free, self-contained solutions, whenever possible. On average, how do you think most people would rate service after the sale over the course of their lives? Do you really think they are looking for more of that? They want cars that don’t break down, systems that need no tweaking; and they may resent the time required to service their product, preferring instead to spend time making money, forwarding their cause or living life.

We tend to believe our customers want great service because we have solutions that require maintenance. In other words, we put customers in a position to need service. To be motivated, we need to believe that we have exactly what the customer wants. The truth is that the customer wants a permanent solution, and either we don’t want to provide it (for various reasons) or no permanent solution exists. If we have to provide service to customers who are not terribly thrilled about needing it, that service had better be fantastic. It’s like insisting that someone who doesn’t particularly care for hot dogs must eat one. You’d better serve one damn good hot dog or you’re in big trouble.

Mediocre service can be worse than no service in some cases. If we can solve customers’ problems before they know they have any, they will feel much better about their purchase but we will lose the opportunity to generate additional revenue and good will through all that customer service. We have to decide which has more value to the customer and to us.

Offering training, spare parts or an organized, pre-set service program as part of the purchase price (or as a higher-priced add-on) may give you greater customer satisfaction and allow you to

  • Offer less service after the sale but give better results to the customer

  • Get more deeply involved with customers at the point of sale and uncover more opportunities to help them succeed at a faster rate

  • Help customers in a way that allows them to learn how to help themselves, proving that your solutions have more long-term value than those of your competitors and are worth the higher price tag.

I realize that this view may not be for everyone; after all, one man’s business-growing customer service is another man’s expensive pain in the butt. But it’s important to find ways to help the customer while at the same time making sure we can stay in business long enough to actually provide that help. Organizations that are not profitable usually give poor service whether the customer wants it or not.

Read other articles and learn more about Garrison Wynn.

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