How do businesses make money? It's actually very simple. You have a product. People want that product. Your business sells that product. It costs you X much to make, learn or distribute that product. You make sure you sell the product for X + X% in order to make ... profit!
That's it. It's really easy when it boils down to it. However, why do customers want to choose your product over other businesses who make exactly the same product? If you sell towels, a lot of other companies sell towels. You sell green towels? Umm, so does another company. Your towels are the fluffiest towels available? Sorry buddy - there are some other, pretty darn fluffy towels. What sets you apart?
Customer service excellence. What is that? Just like it sounds - excellence in customer service. This is one of the few things that any business can do, no matter how many employees you have or much you turnover in a year. I read somewhere that 80% of customers believe small businesses deliver better customer service over larger companies. I think that statistic would be about right, and is proof to me that customer service is a business's most important asset.
How this applies for big companies
If you are a large corporation or business, you may well have the monopoly over a certain product or service; in case you aren't familiar with how business operations run, generally speaking, large businesses who purchase or manufacture large quantities of product are able to garner discounts and can more or less price-match or beat all of their competition. If your business offers the cheapest product around, you will probably always have customers. However, you can still lose customers quickly - and not gain customers as quickly as you'd like! - if your customer service is not fantastic. Small businesses can steal away your customers - not because they are cheaper, not because their store is more convenient to get to, but because: they provide great customer service that makes their customers feel happy and satisfied.
How this applies for small businesses
If your business provides exceptional customer service, people will be willing, and even happy, to pay a bit more for your product. Let's face it, you are always going to be facing tough competition from larger entities who can make or sell your product for that 5-10% cheaper than you can. But as a small business, you have a perfect opportunity to really personalise the service you are giving. Patrons of your business can really have an awesome experience shopping with you (not just a quick in and out financial transaction). You will never have as big an advertising budget as your larger competitors. Luckily, word-of-mouth is free! If you are constantly working at improving your customer service levels and practising it each and every day, more people will talk about your business, buy your wares or service and want to help you succeed.
This doesn't cost money!
I know that implementing changes in the workplace can be hard; not everybody cares about improving their customer service (although they absolutely should!). The good thing about engaging your employees in customer service excellence, and really putting some focus on the topic, is that it's completely free. You can choose to spend money on training your staff on exceptional customer service or creating marketing documents to inform your customers (this more applies to companies that have had a bad reputation for customer service in the past). You can also choose to NOT spend any money, and you can still make great advances through workplace changes. Simple things like always greeting and farewelling customers in a happy way, listening to their response when you ask, "How are you?", not making a person feel as though they are sale no. 424 for the day, and so on and so forth.
There are countless benefits that come from placing emphasis on good customer service skills at your workplace or business - have a think about what changes you could make, tomorrow, to make your company a friendlier place to shop or dine at. There is no better time to start than now and you can start reaping the benefits immediately. You'll know it when a customer expresses genuine surprise at finally being treated like an amazing, VIP superstar - they feel cared for, loved (generally), more confident in their venture into your store ... so many good things come out of great customer service. You'll feel great too, and your boss (if you're not the boss) will love you for winning over some new customers for the quarter. Best of luck!