Jim Clark: Customer service makes the difference | SteamboatToday.com

Jim Clark: Customer service makes the difference

Summer is in full swing, and our weekends are busy. Yes, those crowds can be a little annoying, but as a town that relies so heavily on sales tax to fund our government services, we need those folks in town.

As I'm sure you're aware, this summer is even bigger with the USA Pro Challenge Overall Start coming to town Aug. 17 and 18, with teams arriving the week prior and media coming in early to cover the event. This will put us on the world stage, with the race being featured in more than 175 countries.

Steamboat Springs is a town long known for its western hospitality and friendliness. It's one of our major points of difference, but one that requires constant work, refreshing and reminders. Consumers today have many choices. Social media and online review sites make it easier than ever to spread a reputation of good or poor service.

With the season in mind, I read a piece last week from Katie Scheer, vice president of ProSolutions, experts in hospitality consulting, training and evaluation. She borrowed these statistics from a SalesForce blog by Kendell Thornton: "18 Interesting Stats to Get You Rethinking Your Customer Service Process." (For those not familiar, SalesForce is the number-one customer relations management platform in the world) So I'm borrowing them, too. These statistics are very powerful.

• It is six to seven times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. (White House Office of Consumer Affairs, whitehouse.gov.

• Eighty-nine percent of customers have stopped doing business with a company after experiencing poor customer service. (RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report)

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• Consumers are two times more likely to share their bad customer service experiences than they are to talk about positive experiences. (2012 Global Customer Service Barometer)

• A customer is four times more likely to buy from a competitor if the problem is service-related as opposed to price or product-related. (Bain & Co.)

Thirty-three percent of consumers would recommend a brand that provides a quick, but ineffective response, while 17 percent of consumers would recommend a brand that provides a slow but effective solution. (Nielsen-McKinsey)

• Here's a big one: It takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one. (Parature)

Seventy percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated. (McKinsey)

• Last but not least, 55 percent of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. (Defaqto Research)

See how important customer service is? That's why we continue to work on Service Excellence training for local businesses and improving out Net Promoter Score. Our research tells us that nearly half of our summer visitors have previously visited in the winter. Visitors strongly rely on previous experience, as well as information from family and friends. The long and the short of it is, if people have a good experience, they tend to return.

With the eyes of the media and the cycling world coming to town in a few weeks, let's be ready for them. It's been demonstrated that people who smile and are welcoming are far happier than those who aren't.

So smile and welcome those visitors. It makes you feel good, too.

Jim Clark is the CEO of the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.