When was the last time you had a bad customer service experience?
Chances are that you could answer that question immediately — and that there’s a story to go with it! Poor encounters with a company’s customer service team are apt to linger in one’s memory. They are often far more memorable, in fact, than those occasions when a business meets the customer’s expectations.
When an interaction between a company representative and a client or customer goes sideways, what happens next? Ideally, the company apologies and makes the situation right. They might also offer some sort of recompense: a freebie, a discount, a premium. And the customer is satisfied, maybe even impressed by how the rep handled the whole shebang.
Worst case scenario? One misstep can snowball into a true disaster that costs the company money, catalyzes a public relations nightmare, and culminates in a ruined reputation. Let’s take a look at how damaging poor customer service can truly be.
Thanks to today’s global economy — in which it’s possible to have an item shipped from across the world for the same cost as buying it locally — customer service has become the number-one differentiator. In many cases, it’s the only differentiator.
Screw something up or handle an interaction badly, and you’re going to lose that customer. It’s also very likely that they will take a lot of other customers with them including their friends, their family, their Facebook followers, etc.
Like it or not, doing business in the digital age means that your every move is documented for all too see — and share.
Customers now have platforms that didn’t exist 20 years ago: online review sites. Given that an astonishing 80% of people trust online reviews as much as they do the opinions of friends and family, it’s essential that your company has a good internet reputation.
How you respond to reviews, tweets, and other customer communication is equally important, if not more so. Yes, you can delete Tweets and FB posts, but screenshots and smartphone videos live on. It is easier, less expensive, and better for everyone if you nip potential customer service flubs in the bud, rather than trying to do damage control after the fact.
It’s not easy for a company to repair its reputation once the word has spread that they are lacking in the customer service department. And sooner or later, the business’s employees will start to suffer by association. No one wants to work for a company that has a reputation for being rude, cold, uncaring, or money-grubbing.
When once-loyal customers desert your company and take their friends with them, you also lose the potential boost they would have given you in word-of-mouth advertising. In addition, you forfeit the possibility of new customers coming through your door after reading great reviews.
Once your workers start heading for the hills, it is difficult to repair your tarnished reputation. Bad customer service has brought your revenue stream, profit margin, and your good standing in the community to a screeching halt.
Struggling to deal with difficult customers without losing your cool? Check out some tips for coping when the customer isn’t right!