Fair trading can improve your bottom line

| September 11, 2011

Most businesses work hard to attract customers.  Whilst business development is a priority, it is worthwhile considering what service really means to your customers.  Doing so can help you maintain the customers you’ve worked hard to attract, particularly if something goes wrong.  

We all intuitively understand that solid and professional customer service plays an essential role in building a network of loyal customers; those who will return to your business and recommend your company to others.  Consequently, good businesses work to minimise customer complaints through excellent customer service. 

The business people I’ve met who are passionate about customer service tell me that to provide quality customer service it is essential to have a long-term focus.  They aim to make customer service an integral part of their business’ culture.  Many include targets for service delivery and customer satisfaction in their business planning and employee job descriptions.  It is not uncommon for small enterprises in my electorate to do informal customer satisfaction monitoring through follow up ‘phone calls. 

But what happens when something goes wrong?  Even the best organisations can expect to deal with customers who are dissatisfied at some stage.  Whether the consequence of miscommunication, faulty product, incorrect fee or late delivery, when a customer is dissatisfied, having a compliant handling procedure can make all the difference. 

It is estimated that a person with a complaint is likely to tell nine other people about their bad experience and name the company involved.

With a complaint handling procedure in place, your business will be able to address the issue and respond quickly and with certainty.  When a customer feels that their complaint is being dealt with professionally, they are naturally less anxious.  They are also less likely to share their complaint with others including family, friends and other existing or potential customers. 

Customer service is not just good or bad – there are many shades of grey in between.  Providing only mediocre customer service can also be costly.  Even when things don’t go badly, it is estimated that around 12 to 16 per cent of customers will still leave, because they were not totally satisfied with the service.

Businesses looking for ideas to build on may refer to the Australian Consumer Law (ACL).  The ACL sets the rules businesses must follow when selling goods or services to consumers. While these provisions set the basic requirements for fair trading, savvy businesses are building upon the primary rules in order to set themselves apart from the competition.  Retailers who have a ‘no questions asked’ refund policy are a great example of where the ACL has been exceeded to delight customers. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to keep customers satisfied, and NSW Fair Trading is there to help when consumers are unable to resolve issues to their satisfaction. 

For more tips on providing quality customer service, visit the Fair trading website or call 13 32 20.


The Hon Anthony Roberts MP is the NSW Minister for Fair Trading. Prior to becoming the Member for Lane Cove, he was Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Lane Cove Municipal Council.  Anthony proudly served with the Australian Army on peace keeping operations in Bougainville as part of Operation Bel Isi.  He was also an adviser to Prime Minister John Howard.