I speak to clients all day long, and part of what makes my job fulfilling is the fact that when I’m assisting someone, I not only try to solve their specific issue, I do my best to actually make their day a little bit better. Everyone has had a bad experience with customer support before. Between lengthy hold times, confusing electronic prompts, and the recent surge in outsourced call centers, trying to get assistance can often be a day ruiner. The upside is that expectations have been so lowered in today’s marketplace, that it’s easy to set yourself apart by providing excellent service.

There are a few things that all customers are looking for in a service transaction: Response time, courtesy, follow through, and a personal touch. What some companies don’t realize is that by providing clients with these fundamentals, you are making a direct investment in the foundation of the company — you are creating a loyal customer base. Imagine for a moment that a user places a call to a software company to report a bug in their program. In all likelihood, the issue could take weeks or even months to be resolved. Now imagine that while attempting to report the issue, that client was made to wait on hold, leave a recorded message, or speak to someone on another continent. You’ve taken what is already a frustrating situation and compounded it. You can bet that if that client is approached by a competitor and asked how happy he or she is with your service, the memory of that experience will rear its head.

Now consider the alternative situation — that same client calls and has a pleasant phone conversation with one of the intelligent, well trained representatives that they have come to know support your product. They are assured that their issue will be resolved as soon as possible and are given an expected time of delivery. Even if that ETA is months in the future, they leave the conversation feeling like a valued customer. Finally, and most importantly, they receive a personal follow up when the resolution is complete. Even if the overall response time in scenario B is longer than that in scenario A, chances are good that the client B is the happier one.

The point  is, when you are in any kind of service industry, the service aspect should never be an afterthought. In fact, when you have the right support foundation in place, you are afforded a lot more wiggle room in other areas. When clients actually find a good service company amidst the sea of bad ones, they’re much more willing to weather the storms patiently.  I challenge you to ask this of the members of your support department:

When was the last time you made someone’s day?

And recognize that the answer is more important than you may have realized.