Improving the Customer Experience

Whether you actively use Social Media as a support channel or not, the price of bad customer experience can have a really negative impact on your business.

Having ambassadors for your brand is all well and good, but what happens when you have unhappy customers – how do you handle them?

Live Chat Customer Service

Understanding the Customer

I wrote back in February  about some research done into understanding consumers, but new research from an Accenture survey found that churn had risen (in the surveyed sector) in 2012. Much of this could have been prevented with good customer service.

One in five consumers switched providers in 2012, up five percent from 2011.

However, the majority (85 percent) of consumers say their service provider could have done something differently to prevent them from switching.

The survey suggests that one person tells sixteen people on average of a bad experience while only telling nine of a positive one. That is human nature.

Dealing with negative sentiment

The cost of acquiring new customers is 6 to 7 times more than keeping existing ones.

With the statements above bear in mind some will leave you anyway. On the upside there exists the fantastic opportunity to keep customers and perhaps even convert them to become brand ambassadors themselves. As well as showcasing how great your service actually is.

So just how do you handle unhappy customers?

  1. Be fast
  2. Be human
  3. Be transparent

I suggested in previous posts that you can diffuse potential bad situations by asking to correspond offline, by email. While this shows the rest of the community that you are at least responding, they do not see the rest of the interaction and potentially the eventual outcome. Of course you can’t go giving out personal information online but think about how much of the conversation you can keep public to show your engagement with the customer.

Make sure that you acknowledge the issue quickly, even if you don’t have an answer at the time. Also ensure that your message is consistent across all channels. In research by Aberdeen Group called The Rising Financial Impact of Customer Service this was the 2nd largest factor affecting the customer service experience behind time-to-issue resolution. Reports also suggest that customers are willing to wait a bit longer for customer service if they think it will be any good in the end, especially in SoMe.

Conclusions

Given the acquisition costs of new customers, the churn rate of existing ones, the way people talk about experiences and the potential to keep people happy with customer service: Social Media is a excellent way to enhance your reputation through good excellent customer support online. It’s not a case of being hip or cool that you have these channels. In this day and age its a necessity.

Further Reading

As well as the links throughout this post, check out this article @Fastcompany. If you are looking for something a little lighter, why not check out The Most Epic Brand Meltdown On Facebook Ever  for an example of how not to do it.

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