Marketing

Customer service is a vital component of your company’s offline and online reputation. Customer experience influences so many areas of your business’ success that it’s an integral element to its long-term future.

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, particularly online, customer services can go a long way in ensuring customer retention and growth. A customer who has had a good experience is more likely to return to your business, so the relationship between company and customer is as important as ever – a key part of that is your customer service.

Results of poor customer service

If you provide someone with a poor customer experience, they may let their feelings known through forums and social media platforms such as Twitter.

This encourages discussion and debate about your company online which can often be detrimental to your business. These comments on forums and social media often rank highly in search engines, particularly Google, so they can determine how potential consumers see your business.

Therefore, you need to develop a robust online presence to respond to negative comments. Despite this, new research from Maritz and Evolve24 of 1,298 Twitter complainants found that more than 70% of companies ignore their tweet gripes.

Not only are they missing out on the chance to potentially resolve an issue, but they’re also angering those customers who are often already upset. This can make them even angrier and will minimise any chance of them returning for business with your company. Plus, other potential customers can clearly see that you haven’t taken steps to rectify the problem for the customer.

Responding

While failing to respond to a customer complaint indicates that you provide subpar customer service, you may also exacerbate the problem if you respond poorly.

You need to make sure that your company responds in the right way, in a timely manner. Follow these tips to develop an effective, comprehensive complaint handling strategy:

  • Assign responsibility: Designate the responsibility of responding on social media to capable hands. Is it the marketing or customer services team’s responsibility? Ensure that they have the appropriate training to handle this task and display a consistent response that is in line with the company’s mission statement.
  • Apologise: The primary response should always be an apology; acknowledging that your company may have made some errors will satisfy the customer no-end. The quicker the response, the easier you can resolve whatever issue the customer is having, and the less risk of the customer finding more outlets to complain. That way, the problem is stopped at its root. Try to make the response personal to the customer, so avoid canned responses and refer to them by name where possible. You could even use the name of the person behind the tweet for an extra personable approach.
  • Embrace feedback: Sometimes, complaints or negative reviews can show you where you might be going wrong. Take the feedback on board and look at the relevant area of your business to see if the customer has a valid point.

If you can improve it, then great – you’ve improved your business and probably increased customer satisfaction. Showing empathy and an understanding to the customer’s side can really cut their problem down to size.

If your problem turns into an online reputation crisis, it could inflict some serious damage on your company. The timescale will all depend on how well your company deals with the problem, so read Igniyte’s article on ‘limiting the damage of an online reputation crisis’.