Your organizational culture will develop from habits, traditions, and symbols. What value are you placing on customer service? Do you have a culture of cheap customer service?
Recently I ordered something from eBay. The shipper shipped the product in the actual product box, not the typical brown box that most shippers would use, probably because it was cheaper.
About a month ago, I wrote a note to a vendors contact page, in return I received an automated message. In the long run no one ever returned my inquiry. This feels like they may be using their resources for something else, something that feels more important. Perhaps, they are just too cheap.
Businesses often don’t answer the telephone, return calls, or respond to email messages because it is cheaper to do less. The culture avoids expense, employees are a tool, and their customer service is an afterthought. They do this mostly because it is cheaper.
The big box stores, the superstore on the web, and your local (Dollar General) dollar store don’t have the best price because they are cheap. They often have the best price and good service because they have appropriately scaled. In other cases, their brand sets expectations lower. In either case, this is strategy, not a feeling of necessity.
Businesses that try to underprice their competition in the hope that they’ll build momentum have a strategy too. The problem may be that they lack scale and when they lack scale, they are going to use resources to either gain scale or accept less profit.
Accepting less profit sometimes means paying the workforce less, so they then become a sweatshop. The sweatshop model not only lacks customer service but it also typically lacks talent.
A lack of talent is often a condition associated with cheap customer service. Not just because they don’t pay well, but also because it is part of their culture to just not pay. The underlying principle is money out, never equates to money in.
A culture that insists on the concept of, the lowest price wins, probably also seeks the cheapest vendor. Cheap vendors are probably also using the strategy of low price builds volume. Therefore, the cheapest vendor is cutting every corner living just on the edge, somewhere between failure and survival.
What happens next? The vendor provides bad quality or poor service. Now the business who hired them must reject the work or else they face with delivering an inferior product or service. Often they choose to deliver inferior quality because it is cheaper.
What happens when you have cheap customer service? Some may survive, living just on that edge. Others may be bought by an organization that is improving by building scale.
Cheap Customer Service
Cheap customer service isn’t really a strategy. It develops from a strategy and becomes part of your culture.
There is an alternative. Don’t become a culture of cheap.
I think the alternative is much better.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and corporate trainer that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is a five-time author and some of his work includes, #CustServ The Customer Service Culture, and Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.