Good customer service — Where has it gone?

Consumer Reports magazine has a story in its July issue that every CEO in America should read and take to heart.

The story asks “What’s wrong with customer service?”

The answer isn’t pretty. Here’s an excerpt:

Although recorded messages insist “your call is very important to us,” many companies are driving a wedge between themselves and their patrons through poor use of technology and inadequate training of staff. The Better Business Bureau logged 1.1 million complaints against North American businesses last year, up 10 percent over 2009.

Lest your think the magazine is exaggerating the sad state of customer serice, consider these numbers:

— 64 percent of the consumers who responded to the magasine’s survey said they had left a store because poor service.

— 67 percent of those who called a customer service phone line hung up before getting an answer to their problem.

If you own or run a business those numbers should be frightening.

Shoppers who leave your store because of bad customer service, aren’t spending money in your store. Shoppers who have a bad phone experience will think twice before buying anything from you again — ever. And they’ll tell their friends.

Cutting corners on customer service will save a company money in the short term, but driving customers away is no way to build a business.

Consumer Reports story