Do you want to know what NOT to do when running a business? Offer below average customer care. Especially in 2013, when everyone has a voice on the internet. Good or bad, anything your customer service says on social media can create a buzz for your company. Recently a friend sent me a tweet from the French railroad company account. It is a monopoly so people are really angry when the trains are delayed because they can’t take the bus for most destinations. So this guy was insulting the railway and the customer service said “we lament you were not run over by one of our trains”. The guy was being verbally abusive but pointing out a problem thousands of customers experience each day. It was re-tweeted all over and created a nice little buzz for the train company.
What is worse than people talking bad about? People not talking about you.
True, although a strong consensus against your business, if you are too small, can run you to the ground. Take sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor, where people talk about their last dinner out, or review a small boutique hotel.
One bad review out of 50 will not specially hurt, but if you are consistently given a low rating, potential customers will wonder why. Even worse, they will be able to sort their search results (a hotel in Ibiza, a plumber in Cincinnati) by rating. And just like a Google search, the higher ranked will get most of the business.
Customers are always right even if they are wrong.
I remember returning a jacket after a 1 year round the world trip. Sure, I had been using the jacket for a year, but it was supposedly made out of Gore Tex, and the guy who sold it to me said I could take a shower in it and not get wet. Well, showers kind of happened daily in South-East Asia and after only a minute or two I was soaked under the jacket. So I returned it. After a year, and without a receipt. They refunded it without blinking, and I have been happily shopping with them for the past 10 years (just bough my running shoes over there while in Paris!) and giving glowing feedback of their customer service to who would listen.
In today’s economy, with very tight margins on most products, taking a loss for an unreasonably unhappy customer can be really annoying as a business owner, but you cannot ignore the potential impact of a good review on your business.
Satisfaction guaranteed, too good to be true?
While in Paris, I was also looking for a new pair of flip flops or sandals. A model caught my eye on Amazon, and I started clicking on different sellers at different price. Until one who offered free returns for a year (unworn, not taken all around the world). I was hesitant to order shoes online, the review said to order one size below as they sized big, but with that guarantee, I ordered freely. The company went from having a curious browser to a paying customer in 10 minutes. Because they promised to deliver.
One consistent message
If you hire out your customer services, be clear about what they can do and not do.
Recently I talked to my dear internet provider here, because they are selling a 2 hour internet service that lasts… one hour. Customer service said “we just changed plans”, “it will be fixed asap”, “no money back”, “no time extension, it is a one hour plan, even so our web says the contrary”. Unfortunately as a customer you can’t do much about big companies. Go boycott AT&T and see if they care! But as a small business owner you need to be consistent and deliver the same message with every staff, or some blogger will pick up on you and it will be the end of your success!
Sadly many of the unhappy customers will write an online review, when most of the happy customers will keep quiet. Having an online presence to monitor what is said about you is great, I use Google to get an alert every time someone talks about Financial Independence, you could set that up with your brand as a keyword.
Do you have a good customer service experience?
this post was featured on Freedom 35, thank you!