It’s weeks like this last one that I am glad I am not a market maker or securities broker. I doubt my ticker could survive the roller coaster ride of highs and lows over the last three years. But what happens with service as the economy falters?

The Customer is WRONG!

Let’s just say that this recent string of declines forces some businesses to continue to wring cost out of their business. That means that once again, the cost centers of business will be asked to do more with less. Cutting heads, moving employees to lower cost geographies, and removing investments for continuous improvement take their toll on the employees, which then trickles down to customers.

Between appointments last night, I flipped on Undercover Boss where a CEO in a service industry sat next to an escalated call that was so unfavorable for the customer, she disconnected the call while the agent was reading out another telephone number for her to call. The CEO was so dissatisfied in the performance of that employee that he almost blew his cover. Will we see more of this?

I certainly hope not. What will continue to differentiate companies from their competitors in this weak economy is their ability to solve a customer’s problem. Whether you are processing credit cards, buying laptops for employees, or trying to fix a broken PC, companies will earn loyal customers by taking ownership of a problem and making their lives easier. If your company is looking to cut or outsource services as the first step to keeping the business afloat, I posit your most profitable customers will break their legs jumping off of your wagon.

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