January/April 2001

Customer Service
tips for quality service


Where Has All the Service Gone? 
by Carl Tompkins

• Note: This column is a new addition to AGRR, which will focus on how to improve customer service in an auto glass repair and replacement shop. It will appear in the next three issues of the magazine.

Businesses continue to search for answers for the problems they face in being successful. One of the best answers found by such corporations as Proctor and Gamble, American Express, Sony, General Electric, Whirlpool and Nordstrom’s is utilizing a customer service strategy. Glass shops that have fully implemented their customer service strategy have a record of growing their business by at least 27 percent. A customer service strategy provides excellent results, puts fun back into running a business and is applicable to every type and size business in America. In fact, the Technical Assistance Research Corp. of Washington, D.C., recently concluded studies that indicated those companies providing consumer durables, such as dishwashers and refrigerators, received a $2-return for every dollar invested to implement a customer service strategy. The group went on to conclude that “customer service is more effective toward increasing profit and sales volume than marketing, promotion and advertising combined.”

So why is it that most companies fail to use a customer service strategy? The answer? They fail to realize the true definition of customer service. Customer service is not fancy slogans or special campaigns. Too many companies view customer service as an after-the-sale event. Their thought is that customer service is simply being nice to everyone and comes naturally as the result of a sale. Nothing could be farther from the truth. John Tscholhl, author of Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service, defines customer service as “whatever your customer thinks it is.” But, probably the most meaningful definition comes from Carl Sewell, author of Customers for Life, who says, “If customer service were cake, the politeness, smiles and willingness to go the extra mile would be the icing. The cake would be the systems that allow you to do a good job for the customer which requires doing things right the first time and having a system in place to deal with things when they go wrong.” Hence, customer service reaches much further than most businesses think.

The value that a customer service strategy brings to customers provides the most profitable means of differentiating your business from the competition. Such differentiation eliminates the need to operate as a commodity-driven provider of glass products where price is the only thing that matters. 

Carl Tompkins
is western states area manager for the Sika Corp. of Madison Heights, Mich.


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