How many of us have literally died after getting the run around from a customer service rep?
The answer to that question should be most of us, given that we all have some interaction with businesses on a regular basis in our lives. More often than not, the experience should be nondescript; meaning the customer service you received was neither outstanding nor horrific.
As the world has gravitated more towards the Internet over the last couple of decades, much more customer service interaction is taking place over electronic pages than the older-school pen and paper or telephone.
As a recent example, I flew from San Diego to Newark over the Christmas holiday to see family.
Due to a lengthy unplanned delay in Denver, my flight to the East Coast was delayed nearly four hours, meaning I didn’t get to the New Jersey airport until after midnight. Having missed the last bus service for the night, and rental cars being priced through the nose, I was left with sleeping in the airport for the night. I finally got to my final destination late the next morning, but the damage had already been done.
For a couple of reasons, for which I will not bore you with, the airline had essentially completely messed up the start to a vacation. Before the next night hit, I had fired off an online email to the customer service department at the airline, telling them in bullet-pointed paragraphs, why I thought they had screwed up. Within a short amount of time, I got a response back saying they would look into my claims.
In the event you thought the story ended there, it didn’t.
I followed up the electronic transmission with an old-fashioned letter to the company’s headquarters, eventually getting a $150 voucher towards my next flight.
Whether it is bad luck or just the current state of the airline industry, I have had such incidents happen to me on more than one occasion recently, on more than one airline. Each time, I am quick to turn to an online message to the respective carrier to let them know their service was unacceptable.
Given those incidents, it makes me wonder how businesses in general go about handling such complaints. Do they address them quickly, over time or sometimes even blow them off?
As a business owner, how do you deal with such issues?
While each company must address matters how they best see fit, here are some things to keep in mind:
- People are spending added time on the Internet these days – While the numbers may vary, no one can deny that the Internet is the go-to place for many consumers these days. That being said, your company needs an active and fulfilling customer service team and response in place for each and every online question, concern and criticism that comes your way. To do otherwise is simply not acceptable in today’s information age;
- People want quick resolutions to issues – One of the many advantages of having a productive online customer service response is that you communicate with consumers in real-time. It is important to keep in mind that if you don’t take care of your customers in an acceptable amount of time, you can bet the competition will. What kept me still interested in this particular airline for future flights is that they addressed the matter both online and through regular mail in an acceptable amount of time;
- Hire people who get it – When you’re putting together a customer service team, make sure they get it when it comes to handling matters online. When your business receives a complaint, it needs to act now and not hours later or tomorrow. Customer service reps who are familiar with and use social media on a regular basis will understand that time is of the essence when responding to customer matters;
- Let customers have a positive experience – We all know it to be a fact that it is much easier to keep a happy customer than to lose them and find a replacement. When a customer comes to your site seeking assistance, don’t make them jump through hoops to reach your service team. Make it easy for them to contact someone, address the matter, and get a resolution in real-time;
- Review, review, review – One of the best ways to make sure your customers are getting a positive online experience with your company is reviewing how your team handles such matters. Place some “planned” calls to the team from others who can then report back to you on their experiences. This way you get a first-hand report of how your CS team is handling such matters. If the responses are good, then you should build off of that success. If the responses are bad, then you’ve got some work to do.
Your customers are the lifeblood of your company; don’t let a bad online customer service experience turn them into former customers.
Dave Thomas writes extensively for Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.