During the #custserv chat (every Tuesday, 9PM ET), we started this discussion:
@MarshaCollier: Should customer service should become a caste system, segmented by $$ spent? #custserv
@berkson0: caste system] it isn’t already? #custserv
@catykobe: Nope. Every customer is equally important regardless of how much they spend. #CustServ
The discussion then moved to Google+ to answer this paraphrased question:
Should Customer Service spend the same energy with every customer, or should it spend more time with customers who made larger purchases?
I adapted my answer to that question into this post.
As with any good question, the answer is “it depends”. There are at least two different angles to the answer.
Rationale 1: Spend as much time as necessary to solve the problem
The mission of Customer Service is to complete/ensure the delivery of value to customers. It can only be successful if it is fully committed to that goal.
If solving post-transaction problems is routinely taking time that makes the business non-viable, the root of the problem is elsewhere (badly designed product/service, unrealistic expectations).
Of course, everything has a limit. There are situations where Customer Service better “fire the customer” (as discussed in a recent #custserv chat).
Rationale 2: Optimize resources to maximize returns
Generally, businesses try to allocate resources so that it maximizes return. So it is natural that a company will spend more resources to address issues affecting a large portion of the business.
Spend more resources on bigger deals.
A new variable is that it is becoming difficult to measure the “lifetime value” of a customer relationship. As Social Media enables more peer-influence, that “small” customer might be the person who brings you or kill the deal of your life in the future.
In the most common scenario where Customer Service interventions are exceptions and not the rule (i.e. post-sale issues are relatively rare), I would advocate rationale 1: Focus on making the customer happy without looking at the meter.
Looking at customer service time based on size of the deal makes more sense in cases where post-transaction interventions are common, part of the usual transaction workflow in the business model.
Customer Service: You are not trying to save a transaction, you are keeping the company promise to its customers.