Customer Service

Customer-service-woman-on-headset-gives-OK-1024x770We all have our favorite customer service stories. For some of us, it might be lack of scruples of our local automobile repair shop, the horrible services of a restaurant, the cattle herding mentality of an airline, or completely inefficient and disorganized operation of the cell phone store. Regardless of the perpetrator, one bad experience tends to taint our view of that organization and in some cases, the industry as a whole.
Although almost every organization brags about its commitment to customers and their satisfaction, the results vary. NewVoiceMedia recently found that poor customer service results in an estimated $41 billion is loss to US companies. Other estimates place the losses due to poor customer service at approximately $83 billion. Moreover, most estimates of loses predict that they will rise as more consumer behavior arises from social media. Today, more than any other time in history, I can share my dissatisfaction with a product, service, or organization almost immediately. In a matter of seconds, I can post a review or comment that might be read by millions of other potential shoppers.

A recent story in the major media demonstrates the degree of connectivity. Recently, when a customer called to cancel cable service due the need to reduce their family budget, the customer service representative sent the customer to a retention specialist who sought to convince the customer to not reduce their service. When the “specialist” fails to arrive at the desired outcome, he or she changes the billing name of the customer to “A**hole Brown” from Ricardo Brown.

After the customer’s wife complains to a blogger, the story goes viral. A day after, the story is on numerous websites Mrs Brown has the number one story on CBSNews.com and does interviews with Fox Business and CNN. All of sudden an inappropriate joke embarrasses the largest cable company in the US. Read more about the events at http://www.cbsnews.com/news/spokane-washington-woman-updates-on-comcast-ahole-debacle/.

What does that really mean?

• What we say and do really matters. Going back to NewVoiceMedia, their study estimates that 93 percent of customers will take action when receiving poor service.
•People have the tools and the motivation to punish those that refuse to provide the service expected. Up to 44 percent of consumers take their business elsewhere when unhappy with the service they receive and 89 percent have done just that in the last year. Almost as damaging, 34 percent have posted a negative review online.
•Customers have been told they are “king” for a long time and now they really are. Once having a negative interaction, 58 percent of customers refuse to buy from that company again and 50 percent would tell friends and colleagues not to use the business either.

What can we learn from these events?

We need to make sure that our staff work from the premise that every phone call, interaction, or concern is the most important thing on their plate. Customer service cannot be a sideline, but a mainline of our business. Even with internal services, the customer is key.