Can Customer Service Be a Profit Center?

Two modern business truths:

1) providing customer service costs money
2) in a world with many automated transactions, businesses are desperate to actually talk to their customers, but we customers hang up when companies call, even if the company that’s calling is one we do business with.

Ever had a really bad customer service experience?  Today I got so angry I almost cancelled my Wall Street Journal subscription.

Now for the good news:  One of my clients has instituted sales training for their customer service reps.  They reps solve the problem, then look for sales opportunities while the customer is on the line.  They’ve staffed up so that customers don’t have to wait long on hold—it’s hard to sell to an angry customer.  This company covers two-thirds of the cost of its customer service function by selling to the people who call customer service! Their goal is 100 percent coverage.  Reminds me of H. L. Hunt’s old dictum:  “If this country is worth saving, it’s worth saving at a profit.”  Also true of customer service.