Sometimes you can find greater wisdom in words than in statistics. Facts and figures tell you part of the story, but words can sum an idea up effortlessly.
And when it comes to customer service, there’s no shortage of wisdom out there. From timeless sayings to quotes that relate to today’s digital landscape, we’ve collected some of the best.
Best of all, they all relate to something you can put into action. Here are 20 inspiring quotes and what you can learn from them:
1. “Make a customer, not a sale” - Katherine Barchetti, Founder of K. Barchetti Shops, Pittsburgh
In the sales-orientated business world, it’s easy to forget what’s behind your profits – which is of course, people.
All that’s needed is a change in mind-set – as often your team would approach the target of making a ‘sale’ differently to making a ‘customer’.
2. “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning” - Bill Gates, Microsoft
An unhappy customer inevitably means something has gone wrong. But it’s not a solely negative situation, as every dissatisfied customer gives you an insight into your business.
Look at it this way, it’s better that they called and complained, than switched to a competitor without telling you why.
3. “Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers” - Ross Perot, American businessman
When it comes to understanding your customers, the information you need is there, but many businesses don’t utilise what they have.
Your customer service team will know exactly what’s working and what’s not, simply because it’s all they hear all-day-long. This, if nothing else, is the most important reason why customer service should be better integrated with the rest of your business.
4. “The customer experience is the next competitive battleground” - Jerry Gregoire, former Dell CIO
This quote reflects the growing importance of customer experience. Providing good service has always been important – and always will be – but now it’s reached a point where it’s absolutely essential.
The “connected customer” not only has more power in today’s market, but it’s harder for businesses to differentiate in any other way than the service they provide.
5. “In the world of internet customer service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away” - Doug Warner, Internet enthusiast
On the high street, a disgruntled shopper might have to walk some distance to get to a competitor’s store. Online, they can open a new tab in seconds.
This raises the stakes for businesses – they not only need to provide excellent service, but immediate service to keep the customer engaged.
6. “Never leave your customers wondering.” - Kevin Stirtz, author of More Loyal Customers: 21 Real World Lessons to Keep Your Customers Coming Back
Uncertainty is never a good thing in the business world. This is particularly true when it comes to your customers – you need to keep them in the loop.
Be clear in every communication, and answer all questions promptly, as no-one wants to be left wondering. And the longer you leave it, the more likely a customer is to investigate the competition.
7. “Make your product easier to buy than your competition, or you will find your customers buying from them, not you” - Mark Cuban, American businessman
Never underestimate the importance of keeping things simple. Customers want an effortless shopping experience – from browsing to buying to getting in touch.
If you make your customers jump through too many hoops, they’re likely to switch to a competitor.
8. “Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you” - Chip Bell, author of Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service
There are plenty of statistics out there warning businesses of the effects of poor customer service. And while trying desperately to avoid unhappy customers, it’s easy to forget the other side of the story – the huge benefits of happy customers.
Make a customer happy and they might return, they might even recommend you. But make a customer really happy and they’ll become a brand advocate – and this should be every business’s aim.
9. “Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business. Yes, and that is also true if you are a housewife, architect or engineer” - Dale Carnegie, author of How to Win Friends and Influence People
While this is a quote from over 50 years ago, it’s still as true today as it was then. It’s simply a fact of life that dealing with people is one of the hardest things to do, but offers the greatest rewards.
People are incredibly complex – more so than any technology and knowing how to engage with your customers effectively is a real skill. This is why a great customer service team is a huge asset.
10. “For us, our most important stakeholder is not our stockholders, it is our customers. We’re in business to serve the needs and desires of our core customer base” - John Mackey, Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market
Every business should be first and foremost designed around the needs of their customers. Quite simply, you can’t have a business without customers.
Ensure your contact centre has the ability to record and collate customer feedback, so you can paint a clear picture of what’s working, what isn’t, and what your customers really want.
11. “Don’t try to tell the customer what he wants. If you want to be smart, be smart in the shower. Then get out, go to work and serve the customer!” - Gene Buckley, President Sikorsky Aircraft
It’s a simple fact of life that you can’t tell people what they want. Your marketing team can try to persuade them, but not tell them.
However, it’s much easier to find out what your customers really want and give them that, than try to persuade them that they want something they didn’t before.
12. “Here is a simple but powerful rule: always give people more than what they expect to get” - Nelson Boswell, author of Successful Living Day by Day
Imagine that you expected to get a free pen from a business – but you actually got a free pen and a voucher for their store.
And then imagine that you expected to get a voucher and free pen – and you got it. It’s not as exciting is it? To really delight your customers you need to surprise them with more than they expected – in your customer service, in your products or services, and in any deals or offers.
13. “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves” - Steve Jobs, former CEO, Apple
As said earlier, you can never tell a customer what they want. However, you can predict what they want before they realise they want it.
Every time a customer gets in touch, browses your site or makes a purchase, you have the opportunity to gather data. And if you have the right team in place to analyse this data, you can spot trends, opportunities and even predict what your customers will want in the future.
14. “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money… It is the customer who pays the wages” – Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motors
Whether you like it or not, your customers are your boss. You might be the CEO, or a contact centre manager or a sales person, but ultimately, you all have the same boss.
Employees often try harder to keep their managers happy than their customers and a change in attitude is needed – from seeming customers as people you have to make happy, to people you want to make happy.
15. “Unless you have 100% customer satisfaction, you must improve” – Horst Schulz, former president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company
As an expert in luxury hotel management, Schulz knows how to keep people happy – and why it’s so important.
While most businesses don’t have the same ‘luxury’ status, there’s no reason why customer service levels should drop. Every business should aim for 100% customer satisfaction – settling for any less is not giving customer experience the priority it demands.
16. “Customer service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job” – Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager
For too long, customer problems have been just the contact centre’s problem. But in reality, everyone in the company is responsible for the well-being of their customers – from design through to marketing.
This is why what was considered “customer service” is increasingly being referred to as “customer experience” – it’s a term that encapsulates the whole shopping process and involves everyone in the company.
17. “If you give customers a chance, they’ll communicate with you in many ways” ― Robert G. Thompson, author of Hooked on Customers: The Five Habits of Legendary Customer-Centric Companies
There are many reasons why companies don’t experience the customer engagement they crave. One of these being that they don’t support enough channels. From social media to telephone support, there are more ways than ever before to get in touch with a company, and consumers want this choice.
Encourage customer communications about anything, on any channel, at any time – everything your customers have to say is of value to you and it’s your job to facilitate that communication.
18. “Customer experience optimisation is like dumping out a new jigsaw puzzle. You start with an overview and then look for the corners and edges to frame it” – Barry Dalton, customer service expert
The range of tools and processes which come under the umbrella of "customer experience" have expanded rapidly.
From social media to virtual assistance and voice analytics, there are many parts to the customer experience puzzle and the challenge facing businesses is how to join all the dots. Having the right IT infrastructure and software in place is essential.
19. “True loyalty doesn’t come because of an app. It doesn’t come because you have a punch card where after ten punches you get a free sandwich. It is about the relationship. Take away those “perks” and would the customer still be loyal?” – Shep Hyken, customer service speaker
There are plenty of schemes to encourage loyalty (some would say artificially) but true customer loyalty is the result of great service – perks or no perks.
You can encourage loyalty with rewards but this loyalty is not likely to last – instead focus on providing excellent customer service.
20. “You’ll never have a product or price advantage again. They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied” - Jerry Fritz, customer experience speaker and author
It seemed fitting to end this collection of quotes with one that best describes the business environment we’re in.
Customer service has become the key differentiator. Unlike product features or offers, it’s difficult to replicate an elusive “experience” or an emotional connection a customer may have with a brand.
So what can we learn from some of the best quotes? Customers are at the heart of every business – and pleasing them is the only way to stay ahead of the competition. And getting it right is difficult, but the rewards are huge.
The greatest challenges facing businesses today is making the most of customer data, engaging the “connected customer” and providing a seamless omni-channel experience.
Find out how our solutions can help you improve your customer service and call us on 0800 280 2888 (UK) or +44 207 206 8888 (worldwide).
What do you think is the best customer service quote? Have we missed any of your favourites? Share your thoughts below.