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[caption id="attachment_60" align="alignright" width="127" caption="MSE-Hickman provides quality customer service!"]MSE-Hickman provides quality customer service![/caption]

Good customer service is something that has faded in past years with the increase of big box stores such as Wal-Mart and the decline of smaller mom and pop businesses. The truth is that most people, in fact, buy by price. Which partly explains why larger companies from airlines to chain stores have the highest complaints in customer service.

Through consumer demand, we as customers ultimately control customer service. If poor customer service was something that really bothered us, then we could boycott such places. However many people have a short memory when it comes to bad customer service, especially in a bad economy when low prices entice consumers to come back even though they may have had a poor experience.

Even though many consumers are driven by price customer service is still very important to consumers. According to Accenture’s fourth annual study on customer satisfaction, customer service ranks above price as a global driver for customer retention. Of the more than 4,100 consumer who participated in the survey 73 percent of survey respondents saying they have switched providers due to poor service, compared with 47 percent who switched providers because of lower prices. Consumers have become less forgiving of companies that fail to satisfy their expectations and will leave a company because of a poor experience.

Small business can learn a lot from the customer service failures of larger business and can use this to their advantage. During these tough economic times, high quality customer service is what small businesses need to survive. Small businesses may not always have the leverage to compete price wise with the bigger guys but the most important lesson to learn is to always keep customer service a top priority.