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Is it possible to offer too much customer service?

Answer

We all know customer service is critical to the success of any business, but it can be tough to walk the path between perfect provider and patsy. We all know the sayings “the customer is always right” and “there’s no traffic jam on the extra mile.” However, what constitutes good customer service varies, and it can be easy to slip into territory that serves customers but doesn’t serve your business.

The question is, where is that line? Where does it become less about serving the customer and more about a customer or potential customer taking advantage? At times, it might serve you to be fiscally responsible and say, “I can’t help you.”

You might think that the right thing to do is to always go above and beyond, but while you do have a responsibility to serve your customers, you also have a responsibility to your business. The goal of customer service is to provide your customers with such a pleasant experience that they return to you time and time again. The customer gets what they need and want, and you get revenue which keeps your operation running. It’s a simple transaction that can quickly become lopsided.

Maybe it’s a customer who demands special treatment but doesn’t spend. Perhaps it’s a customer that didn’t purchase a product from you at all but “just needs a little favor.” Sometimes you deal with the potential customer who keeps you on the phone with questions, but never quite pulls the trigger and makes a purchase.

With some of these customers, the payoff is worth the extra time and/or aggravation. Maybe the customer that “just needs a favor” buys other things from you regularly, and this special service reminds him or her why they buy from you. A customer who demands special treatment might be convinced to spend more if informed that special services are offered to premium customers.

Define the lines for your company, and then make a thought-out decision to cross them. If there seems to be some benefit to going beyond what might be considered standard customer service, then do so. If there doesn’t or if the benefits don’t seem to be worth your time and effort, then politely let the customer know you’re sorry but you can’t help and move on to assisting those who will help benefit your bottom line. There’s no harm in telling a customer that “it’s three strikes and you’re out.”

EnMart