Keeping the Faith When It Comes to Customer Service

Many companies talk a good game when it comes to customer service and follow-up, but Mike Faith, founder/CEO of San Francisco-based, walks it like he talks it.

Faith’s name, e-mail, and direct telephone line have been included with each outgoing order since 2003 so that customers can contact him with any problems or questions. Not that he waits for customers to call him. Faith also phones and e-mails about 30 customers a day.

Has it had an impact? Yes, says Faith, who–you guessed it–answered questions via e-mail. “It was part of our seven promises listed on our Website. I can’t say this is the chief reason behind our success, but it’s a big part of our strategy.”

Faith said sales at rose from $40,000 in 1998 to more than $17 million last year, primarily because of the company’s emphasis on customer service.

Prospective customer service reps are put through a series of nine interviews with management and have to take an IQ test as well as be interviewed—via phone—by Faith himself. “I want to see if I would feel comfortable buying from that person,” Faith says. “We’re not just going to put people on the phone. We want experts, which means we must hire the right people.”

Faith admits that the painstaking process of hiring the right CSRs may have slowed the company’s growth some, but if that’s what it takes to deliver the proper customer care, he says, so be it.

And though Faith mostly subscribes to that well-worn maxim of business “the customer is always right,” he gives it a slight twist: “The customer deserves our respect. Sometimes they could be wrong. But they always deserve our respect. They are giving us their money. Anyone who is disrespectful to a customer will lose their job with us.”

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