Customer service can be the differentiator

Yesterday at 4pm my laptop adapter died. I called Lenovo customer service, my call was answered with a less than 2 minutes of wait time, the issue was diagnosed in less than 10 minutes and a replacement request was placed. Next morning at 10 am I had the UPS guy at my door to deliver a new adapter. After having my share of horrible customer service experiences over time, this experience with Lenovo just wow-ed me.

All laptops are made in China, probably in similar, if not the same, manufacturing facilities. Price as the differentiator is out because they are all pretty much equally priced. All run the same programs. So how do you differentiate one from the other? That’s where customer service comes into picture. You can put life into seemingly commoditized industry with the help of customer service.

This must make you wonder why I am making such a big deal of customer service which I should generally expect to get. It’s partly due to the deteriorating condition of customer service across the board. So when someone like me gets good customer service somewhere, we talk about it and let people know.

I like to draw analogy between customer service and design. Imagine you keep seeing badly designed personal music players one after the other and then you suddenly come across one that is very intuitive, easy to use and fun to carry, or in other words, just great design at work. You notice it and you mention it to others. Same thing happens with customer service and whether it’s Lenovo or Asiana airlines or Zappos, all of them get good amount of mentions, courtesy of their customer service.

To bring this analogy to closure, here’s the flip side. You keep coming across well designed personal music players one after the other and suddenly you come across one that is not up to the mark. In that case, you will notice that bad design and start drawing comparisons with the good ones around. Similarly in case of customer service, if your entire industry is providing better service than you are, you can be in lot of trouble.

Customer service can make a lot of difference and influence a buying decision. So irrespective of what business you are it, make sure you don’t mess with customer service.

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