Customer experience is the predominant driver of business success. Your products and services need to be great – that’s a given – but longevity is about much more than that. What matters right there in the moment and in the longer-term, is how customers feel about the experience that you give them.
The ‘holy grail’ if you will, is an experience that’s so good that customers come back for more. Better still they become your brand advocates – recommending your products and services to family, friends and colleagues. These happy customers are also more likely to give you a testimonial or a 5-star review.
At the other end of the customer experience scale, customers will tell a woeful story of just how wrong you got it to anyone who will listen. This is where online reputation management will help you.
At worst, customers will complain about their experience on social media, and it will spread like wildfire, they’ll tell family, friends and colleagues and lambaste you via the press. In this article, Igniyte examines the real cost of bad customer experience to businesses and how both bad and good customer experience stories spread online. We look at some customer experience success stories and give 5 tips for building a reputation for great customer service and experience.
The cost of bad customer experience
People want a great experience and many brands pay lip service to it, but ultimately fail to provide it. The brands that do put customer experience first not only gain a great reputation for it, particularly through social media, reviews and forums, but they also soar to the front of consumers’ minds. Brands that focus on customer experience can go on to become some of the biggest brands in the world. Just look at Apple, Zappos and Emirates.
Failing to keep customers happy is a big concern particularly for company reputation, customer retention and performance. We often talk about the importance of employees in protecting company reputation – and they clearly have a big role in customer experience, but what does a bad experience cost?
Bad customer service cost businesses a staggering £37 billion in 2016, research from the Ombudsman Services found earlier in 2017. According to their survey, more than a quarter of consumers (28%) spent less with a company or took their custom elsewhere after receiving poor service.
The way a company manages complaints is costly, with 79% of people saying they’re unlikely to shop with a brand again if their issue is handled badly.
The Ombudsman Services survey also finds that customers are becoming more likely to speak up if they receive poor service. The number of complaints against British firms increased from 52 million in 2015 to 55 million in 2016. It’s clear that customers are no longer willing to settle for poor service.
Chief ombudsman Lewis Shand Smith says: “This research shows that much more needs to be done to make the customer ‘king’ from a customer service point of view. The problem is that 63% of consumers feel disillusioned and feel resigned to poor service, and no longer trust businesses to do the right thing.”
Customer service and experience stories spread like wildfire online, particularly on social media, in 2016 for example, the rail sector was one of the most complained about. The year saw numerous disruptive train strikes, cancellations and the sector faced a 30% rise in complaints, reaching 2 million.
One of the most complained about train companies received 5,000 complaints a day, countless negative media stories and thousands of angry passenger complaints on social media. The company reached a low TrustScore of 0.7 out of 10 on customer review platform Trustpilot. It could also cost the company their franchise.
Situated in the highly competitive UK market, one mobile network is struggling to compete after a series of poor reviews, with 92 for every 100,000 subscribers. Furthering this, a study by consumer based review service Which? showed that the company scored poorly for customer service, coming joint worse in terms of customer satisfaction, with only 50% of customers happy with their service. Moreover, only 25% of customers said they’d recommend the network. It has translated poorly into the financial success of the company. In October 2016, the company paid out £4.6 million over mishandled complaints.
5 tips for building a reputation for great customer service and experience
Build partnerships and relationships
Think beyond a transaction – build relationships with customers and partner with them. Ask their opinions, give them ideas and resources to help them improve what you offer or how you offer it.
Talk about your successes, innovation and growth
Customers like to deal with companies that are credible and forward-thinking.
Talk about how you’re innovating, winning awards and become an industry thought leader or influencer.
Get customers and employees to talk for you
Ask customers to share their great service or experiences via a survey, social media and share them and use them in your marketing materials. If you’ve solved a problem that could help others, ask them to help you share their story. Employees can be your biggest advocates too – and people like to do business with people not faceless corporations. Share stories about your employees and how they look after your customers and help to make their lives better.
Many companies and employees get involved with the communities in which they operate. Sponsoring, volunteering and fundraising are great ways to show more of your personality and build relationships.
If you get something wrong and a customer has a bad experience it doesn’t have to tarnish your reputation. Respond as soon as you can and fix it. Take the conversation with them offline if you can so you can get to the bottom of the problem without airing it in public. Once it’s resolved see if your customer will share their experience of how you turned it around. Silence is not the best option – that can hurt your reputation as it implies inaction to others. So, stay calm, professional and work to a resolution.
Customer experience counts
It’s important for companies to provide great customer service and experiences so that they can maintain their customer base, and grow. With more competition in all markets, attracting and keeping customers with great products and services and a great experience is key to survival.
The most successful companies recognize that customer service and experience enhances their reputation and puts them ahead of their competition. They also leverage their customer loyalty to build on great experiences and build their reputations for being organisations that care about what their customers want and need. Listening, adapting, responding and keeping the customer – the lifeblood of their businesses – at the forefront of everything they do.