Resources. Connections. Great marketing. A solid pitch. What do you think leads to success as an entrepreneur? Entrepreneurship can take many forms, and in our society, it’s more popular than ever to strike out on your own as a business owner. But when we look at the statistics, we see just how tough it is to really crack the code in the world of entrepreneurship.
Here’s are a few sobering facts to consider:
Just over half of startups fail within five years.
19 percent of those businesses fail due to competition.
18 percent fail due to pricing and cost issues.
There are other factors that play a role in the success or failure of a startup. Your entrepreneurship venture can depend on its location, its funding, your education and experience level, personality type, and willingness to work far more than the average human being ever wants to work.
But what is really at the heart of success for every entrepreneur? If you have all of these pieces of the puzzle...the funding, the location, the education, and even the willingness to work, you still might come up short. But how? Why?
That’s because there’s one crucial ingredient to your success as an entrepreneur that, if you have it, you will win against your competition every. Single. Time.
And that ingredient is service.
4 Ways Customer Service Makes or Breaks a Business Venture
Think about the newest startup on the block. Think about your own business or ambitions. Chances are, the first thing on your mind isn’t your customer service. You probably think more about your product, your pitch, and your bottom line that you do your customer experience. It’s natural to worry about these things first and for service to feel like a secondary detail. However, it should be a top-tier issue!
1) Great customer service covers a multitude of sins.
I think we all recognize that mistakes happen. Whether or not we’re willing to forgive these mistakes and give second chances and trust it with our time, money, and effort again, often depends on how those mistakes are handled. Being an entrepreneur can be a bumpy process. You will no doubt have kinks to work out. As such, your customer service will have to be top notch.
Even if you do experience hiccups along the way—particularly in those first five years—having a gracious response ready will ensure that your customers stick around to see your through as you grow and adjust. Your response is everything, and you and your employees have one chance.
2) It creates good will and loyalty.
When you’re just starting out, no matter what field you’re in, how many employees you have, or what you’re trying to accomplish, you want to foster a community of people who will support your venture for the long haul. You do this partly by providing something worthwhile, but you also accomplish this by treating people well.
How you make your customers feel is astronomically important. This isn’t just about recovering from mistakes—this is about your day-to-day behaviors, from the very first interaction. It’s about phone conversations, social media, and e-mails. How are you engaging with others? Are you being warm, kind, and gracious? Do you make customers want to be around you? Do you draw them in and encourage their support simply by being the kind of person or company that people want to support?
3) You will pull ahead of the pack.
Because most other business owners don’t put the emphasis on customer service that they should, if you make it one of your priorities, your efforts will not be wasted. If you have steep competition—and in the digital age, there is always competition—this is how you pull ahead. By treating your customers not only with kindness, dignity, and respect but by going above and beyond in the area of customer service, you ensure that they will choose you every time.
4) Bad service will always cost you.
On the flip side, bad service is always costly. While the numbers are tough to crunch when it comes to what bad customer service really costs us, what we do know is that companies spend a lot of money trying to figure out how to attract and keep customers. It is always more costly to bring in new customers than to keep the ones that you already have, so this notion of retention is key. If your bad service is driving people away, you will trap yourself in the high expenses that drive so many startups to fail within five years.
Keeping your costs low through customer retention should be at top-of-mind, and one way that this is accomplished, largely, is through a standout customer experience. Happy customers spread the word organically, keep coming back, and do good for you otherwise would not have occurred.
In short, customer service is at the heart of short-term success and ultimate longevity of a business. People value a connection with the businesses they choose to patronize, and in a highly competitive market, the service you provide must stand out above the rest.
What's the best above-and-beyond customer service you've ever received? Share your experience in the comments.