Think of customer service like a first date. One wrong word can have either party second guessing the decision to spend time together. Customers react to your brand in the same way.
In both scenarios there are often other circumstances that can affect the quality of the experience – like a bad day. You shouldn’t begin a relationship with negativity, and especially not one that you hope will be long term.
Unfortunately, it happens all the time in business, and companies have a hard time understanding what went wrong. Just like a person who doesn’t get called for a second date. What you can be sure of when you do have a negative experience with a customer, is that they’re going to tell someone else about it.
Word of Mouth
Business people know how powerful word of mouth marketing is, but it is also a double-edged sword. You can guarantee that after poor customer service (or a date), that person is going to share it with their spouse, friends, family, etc. Last year Nielsen reported that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know more than advertising. That is why it is increasingly hard to sway public opinion with marketing alone. Your public image must align your with your employees’ actions.
Word of mouth is not something that exists just outside of your company – it can also come from your employees. They are going to have the inside track about how your company handles customer service. If they wouldn’t do business with you, then there is a chance that they won’t allow close friends to do so either. If you’re not sure how your employees feel about the company, it’s time to start asking the right questions.
Do you remember when you had to only ask for feedback with customer satisfaction surveys? Now with sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Google Places, Yellow Pages and more, the feedback is out there – unsolicited and sometimes ugly. The accuracy of these sites is often called into question because you do not know exactly who posts to them. Someone who has never done business at your establishment could have written a review. Also, you are unlikely to be dealing with representative data from many of these sites because they just don’t have enough posts. However, if you notice consistent negative reviews on these sites about your brand, it’s important that you listen to what’s being said. Evaluate the situation internally to see if the complaints are real and then see if there is a solution that can improve the customer experience in the future.
Social communities can be the bridge between word of mouth and your brand. With personal and company profiles existing in the same space, there is a lot of opportunity for feedback to help you improve the customer experience. However, this can go downhill fast. Just read how the owners of Amy’s Baking Co. reacted to criticism the wrong way on their social media channels after an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares.” The episode aired almost a month ago and the comments are still coming. Most people can forgive an honest company, but that story proves that poor customer service can be difficult to forget.
The moral of the story here is that bad customer service can spread even faster than good news. Not knowing that there is a problem can only make it worse. In dating terms, you don’t want to be the man or woman who is single because they don’t know what went wrong.
NBRI helps companies in various industries unravel underlying customer satisfaction issues. Our surveys and action planning processes deliver future business strategies that you can trust. Take the first step by contacting us today!