"Moments of Truth"
Every interaction between a customer and a vendor is a "moment of truth." Did the sales person listen? Did the product work as documented? Was customer support friendly--and did they resolve the problem? Every interaction gives your company a chance to keep your promises... or break them.
Seth Godin writes, "I just spent the last few days on the phone with HP, Creative and Maytag. Infuriating. Difficult. Time-consuming. In two cases, I 'won' the discussion, but of course, both of us lost. In the other, they won; I gave up and don't expect to return any time soon."
Last week I returned my iPod for repair and Apple fixed and returned it this week. They sent an email explaining how to return it, sent me an email indicating they received it, and sent a final email reporting it was on its way. They solved the problem quickly, and kept me informed all along the way.
Do you consider customer support a cost to be cut? It's truly an investment in customer loyalty.
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