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your customers must come before everything else

May 11, 2006

I've always had a very strong customer service focus. I attribute this to the time I spent working in retail. My first jobs were all in retail and even my first job out of college.

Retail is a terrible way to make a living. The hours stink, wearing the little outfit stinks, the pay stinks. But if there's one thing they teach you in retail it's how to take care of a customer. That the customer is truly the only reason you're there, that the customer is a precious flower to be cared for, respected and nurtured.

The customer is the one thing you can least afford to put off when you start a business. Yet, I see so many articles talking about getting things done. Often recommending only checking your email in the morning and once in the afternoon. Only doing support at one set time a day.

I think this is horrible advice. See by doing that you're doing what everyone else is doing. You're providing the same mediocre service customers expect to get.

Why not be different? Why not be memorable? Why not answer emails right when they come in?

That's one of the things I try to do if it's at all possible. Most of the time I am able to respond within 10 minutes or so. Not always, but very often. Because of that my service stands out. I can't count how many times customers have responded and the first thing they note is how impressive that is.

The reason I'm thinking of this is that I had several large sales today and both mentioned the speed an quality of support as major factors in their purchase decision. I can't help but think that may not have factored so highly if support had not been faster than timely.

I say let the programming wait. Is that new class you're writing really more important than a prospective customers question? I don't think so and neither should you.

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