happy-shopper-2Think back to the last outstanding experience you had at a shop or restaurant. What made it so great? Was it the price or was it the exceptional level of service you received?

For a customer to feel deeply satisfied with a buying experience, it usually comes down to service over price. According to a 2011 American Express survey, “78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience.”

Exceptional customer service generates revenue. Here are a few warning signs that your service practices may need a closer look.

Retention rates are lagging

While it is important to land new clients, it is also vital to focus on retaining your current customers. Go back in your books and check retention rates over the last few months. If those numbers are at the same level or have decreased, it’s time to rethink your customer service strategy.

“It is important to track retention rates closely,” says Barbara Burke, a customer service expert, author and speaker based in Minnesota.

Direct competitors are thriving

Do some Internet research (or better yet, in-person information gathering) on your competitors. If those companies look to be raking in heaps more customers than you are, consider changing your strategy.

“If your competitor has live chat online, you may want to explore that,” says Burke. “Zappos.com, for example, has seen the number of live chats with customers grow so much that they are cutting back on incoming call agents. Live chat is an incredibly popular customer service tool these days.”

Employees look tired

Your employees are your best source of information on customer satisfaction, says Burke.

“Ask your employees for suggestions on how to make your company’s service better,” she recommends. “Inquire as to what customers are complaining about and then develop a plan for how to fix service-related problems.”

Your gut is screaming

Is there a nagging voice in your head that you’ve been trying to push away for a few weeks or months? Start paying attention; your subconscious may be telling you to change something in your business.

Burke recommends, “If you have a hunch, follow up. If you see an issue, fix it right away.”