Ad Age ran a great article today on the importance of customer service. A link is in the sidebar and here: http://adage.com/article?article_id=125583. But here's the beginning of the piece:
YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- A Harris Interactive poll finds that a whopping 95% of people believe it is at least somewhat important that companies know "who I am, my buying history, past problems or complaints, preferences and billing record." Some 37% said knowledge of personal history is important, and more than a quarter -- 27% -- called it "very important."
This information is really telling. It shows that consumers -- aka, customers -- want to be treated with respect. While the old model of the local bricks and mortar stores where the merchant knows you personnally is practically gone, customers still want to feel a connection to vendors. I sure like it when I call a company with a problem, and they have caller ID that tells them who I am. LL Bean does the best job with this. I also appreciate being greeted and thanked at the grocery store or at Wal-Mart. Amazon.com knows what I've bought in the past and makes recommendations to me. All this creates important connections.
If you're starting a business, keep high quality customer service on the top of your to do list. Make it a part of your marketing plan. It's the face you present to your customers, even when you can't see their faces.