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Although I’m a bit of a geek girl, I totally lack the technical gene. So I needed some help when I bought my new computer and monitor. I experienced the customer service of two companies: one (Apple) superb, and one (Samsung) horrific. Read on for six lessons companies can learn from customer service hell.

The bottom line: if your customer service sucks, nothing else matters. Handle customer service right and you can turn losses into wins and angry customers into evangelists. And remember: if it wasn’t for customers, you wouldn’t need to come to work.

While there are celebrated examples of stellar customer service from companies including Zappos, LL Bean, Apple, Nordstrom, and many more, the majority of customer service is still an unmitigated disaster.

Five principles of great customer service

1- Be happy that customers complain. A customer who complains is your best customer. The ones you need to worry about are the ones who go away mad and tell their friends and Twitter followers. Customer complaints can be an early warning signal for problems; a chance to improve, and an opportunity to be better than your competitors.
2- Make it easy to complain. I don’t need to tell you how horrible it is to wrangle with automated systems when you’re trying to get to a human. You already know. Fix it!
3- Treat your employees well. Employees are your internal customers. Treat them with respect. Recognize and reward their good work.
4- Never forget that the customer pays your salary. You are in business to serve your customers.
5- Solve customer problems quickly. Most product issues will fall into a few categories. Track and recognize them and fix the problems so they don’t keep happening. Many companies take as long as a week to respond to customer email questions and complaints. You can’t do that in the age of real-time communications and social media,
6- Make customer service everyone’s business. Put your executives on the phone with customers regularly. Adopt a policy of delighting customers and continually improving service.