As an industry, we can often become so focused on selling that we forget to service those loyal customers that we already have.

A cursory look in one of Australia’s largest bookstores suggests this is the case and raises some interesting questions for those in the business of customer service.

Recently, this burningpants correspondent was seeking a suitable book on relationship management that could be used as a gift in a session with executives about how to be more effective in this space.

Using the first human calculator, I paced out each section of the bookstore so see what was important and what wasn’t.

What I found was that ‘Marketing’ and ‘Sales’  have whole sections  stacked four shelves high while relationship management  has only four books and a further eight on CRM systems.  Nothing in real terms.

What does this mean? Are we so focused on customer acquisition that we forget the loyal customers that we have already?

Many companies during the great phone wars a few years ago learnt this lesson where they offered better and better deals leaving existing customers felt disengaged. I know I was one of them and left that company as soon as the contract was up.

Keen to explore this further, I then conducted my own vox pop, asking people I know what they thought about the customer service in Australia in general. Most felt that we as a nation of positive, happy, global citizens had lost our way and that this was no longer a feature of the business culture at a level that should be delivered.

Have businesses forgotten the customer over the revenue needs of the business? I wonder.

Would we better off as a nation driving improved customer service from cafes to big banks as part of the cultural core? Should this be part of the education process? Is a diploma in customer service out of the question?

When things like resources shift in terms of importance we will need service industries to form some of the backbones of our economy or we could be in trouble.

The consequence of all this is that business managers end up with a ‘Good Food Guide’ rather than a guide to managing their relationships.  Thank goodness people still love food as long as it is on time!

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