Customer service is a central feature of certain industries; without it, no business would be able to succeed. For example, imagine a restaurant that served delicious food, but had rude servers and took hours to bring your food to you—it would go under, no matter how talented or original the chef was. If a retail store never had anyone to help customers and provided inattentive cashiers, it wouldn’t survive.
Accordingly, industries like restaurants and retail invest heavily in customer service, carefully choosing the right representatives and imposing strict brand standards to ensure successful customer interactions. Other, less customer-centric industries are more lenient, allowing their customer service to lapse—but these neglected industries might be suffering from that lack of customer attention.
Industries That Commonly Neglect Customer Service
These industries have the most potential to neglect customer service—and they’re paying for it:
- The medical industry. The medical industry frequently neglects customer service for a good reason—to serve as many people as possible in a way that maximizes patient outcomes. Doctors and nurses want to remain as objective as possible, and see as many patients as possible throughout the day; unfortunately, that doesn’t allow much time for personal conversations or individual attention. Most hospitals and doctor’s offices look the same to new patients, but it wouldn’t take much to give someone a strong preference to one over the others.
- The legal industry. The legal industry has a similar incentive to see as many people as possible; plus, attorneys are paid to be as objective and discerning as possible. They tend to see people in terms of the strength of their cases, rather than who they are and what they’re going through. This doesn’t work, especially when providing services that require empathy and understanding like divorce mediation.
- Telecommunications companies. Telecom companies are notorious for providing terrible customer service. Common complaints include long waiting times when calling on the phone, poor resolutions, inconsistent service, and a perception that the brands are big, empty, and impersonal. This is, in part, a necessary side effect of being a big company serving millions of people. However, it’s no excuse to provide no customer service; if one company could provide substantially better service than the others, it could easily rise as the preference.
- Banks. Banks have a few customer service issues, but the biggest one is an overall perception of the industry. Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, banks have had an image problem; people don’t trust them, and believe them to care about profitability more than anything else. Again, this is partially attributable to the nature of the industry. Most big banks serve millions of customers, and transactions tend to be cold, logical, and objective. All it would take is a bit of extra care and compassion for customers to start transforming perceptions of an individual company within the industry.
- The insurance industry. Insurance companies face similar problems as big banks. They, too, need to make cold, objective calculations, and dealing with customer service when making a claim can be nightmarishly complex. Insurance companies spend little time improving the claims process, or making things simpler for new customers, and instead focus their attention on maximizing profitability at all costs.
How to Step Up Your Game
If you own a business or oversee customer interactions within any of these industries, there are some easy ways for you to step up your customer service game:
- Have more personal interactions. A simple conversation can make a big difference in a customer’s perception of your business. Spending a few extra minutes getting to know someone can make them feel closer to your brand, and remember you more fondly—even if the rest of their experience is lackluster.
- Ask for regular customer feedback. Don’t speculate about what your customers actually want—ask them yourself! Use surveys to gather customer feedback regularly, and get a gauge for how you and your staff are performing. Take that criticism seriously, and make changes to your approach.
- Make your customers feel special. Anything you can do to make a customer’s experience memorable and unique will go far. Add personal touches, and go out of your way to make them happy—especially if their experience starts off on shaky ground.
Customer service doesn’t have to be a massive investment to get your attention, and it doesn’t have to be revolutionary to be memorable. Even a small bit of extra attention can make you stand out—especially in an industry that doesn’t usually give it. Work on your own customer service skills and train your staff to exhibit the brand characteristics you want on display; in time, your reputation will speak for itself.