5 Quotes That Show What Customer Service Means to the World's Best Business Leaders

For your company to grow at a sustained pace, the focus cannot shift from customer service to anything else as it is the reason why it was started

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Customers are the reason a business exists. All business leaders know this. They speak glowingly about how their companies value customers the most. But a huge chasm appears when most of them have to walk the talk.


While getting sucked into new product development, processes and daily operations, many companies lose focus of a crucial metric — customer satisfaction. For this, they pay heavy prices, like huge investments in advertising, loss of business, and the possibility of the company shutting down.

On the other hand, the most successful companies make customers the fulcrum of all their actions. Their customers reward them with loyalty and play a key role in the company building a positive reputation.

Here are five lessons about customer service that renowned global business leaders want you to know.

#1. "Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company." — Tony Hsieh, CEO Zappos.com

Most companies believe that customer service is the function of customer support agents. But they're dead wrong.

Division of work is a logical step for all departments. Except for customer service. Customers don't want just a product or service. They crave for an experience.

Every department should play its part in offering customers an experience that keeps them coming back to the company.

#2. "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to destroy it." — Warren Buffett, Investor

It takes a tremendous amount of effort to build a reputation, and even more effort to sustain it. But it takes just a few minutes for all that to get wiped out. Think Enron and Satyam.

Articles on leadership and culture don't build your organization's long-term reputation. It gets built by word-of-mouth, which, in the days of social media, works on steroids.

Treat all your customers as if they'll talk about every transaction to others. You can never tell when they will.

#3. "Customers don't expect you to be perfect. They expect you to fix things when they go wrong." — Donald Porter, VP, British Airways

You are human, and so are your people. You will make mistakes.

Your customers accept this because they're human too. But they will accept you doing nothing to fix a mistake.

Many companies make it difficult for customers to lodge complaints, which further aggravates their frustration and pushes them into the welcoming arms of competitors.

But here's the thing.

By highlighting imperfections, your customers do you two favours. One, they give you another chance to prove yourself and turn them into loyal patrons. Two, they highlight chinks in your process which has caused many customers to leave silently without your knowledge.

Losing customers is an expensive affair. It leads to loss of business and makes you invest heavily in acquiring new ones.

A long-term customer can yield up to ten times the value of his first purchase. Compare that to how much you spend in bagging a new client.

Fixing customers' issues is not enough. As a leader, you also must set processes and safety nets to ensure that they don't occur again.

#4. "Know what your customers want most and what your company does best. Focus on where those two meets." — Kevin Stirtz

Your customers don't want to know about your product's "intuitive features", "best in class service", or "lowest price." They don't care about how your product will revolutionize the market.

They want to know what they can do with your product; how it promises to make their lives better.

The intersection of what your customers need and what you offer is where the magic happens. The larger this intersection, the faster your business grows.

#5. "Good customer service begins at the top. If your senior people don't get it, even the strongest links further down the line can become compromised." — Richard Branson, CEO Virgin Group

A company's culture doesn't reflect its leaders' words. It reflects its leaders' actions.

Everything good or bad about a company begins at the top. Customer experience is no different.

If leaders don't match their actions and words, people will follow suit. You don't have to guess what happens next.

Leaders must be prepared to get their hands dirty to keep customers happy. They must conduct periodic reviews to keep customer complaints low. They must act on feedback to prevent errors from occurring rather than merely correcting them all the time.

Such steps don't delight just customers, but also employees who feel more invigorated to give their best to their work and your customers.

Summing Up

Your company started doing business for a reason, which was to fulfil an unaddressed need. For your company to grow at a sustained pace, the focus cannot shift from this reason to anything else.

Put the customer at the centre of your company's universe. As Ray Kroc, former CEO of McDonald's said, you'll never make it if you just work for money. But if you love what you do and always put customers first, success will be yours.