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The impact of customer service in the modern day

Lewis McDonnell

The world of customer service can sometimes be a minefield and if it’s not being done correctly, it can quickly turn into a serious problem. 

Around a decade ago, a large amount of customer service came in the form of call centres and personal emails, most likely draining time from your day. This meant that the process was very slow and closed off, with nobody else involved, however as the digital world has evolved, so have customer interactions. With this evolution comes some negatives, like a very public damaging opinion of your brand or company and the possible ability to spread this opinion, however it does come with multiple positives as well. Customers have the ability to get their answers really fast and all in the same place.

Customer feedback serves a number of different purposes, but it will ultimately fall into two different categories: either positive or negative. Both can be useful, for different reasons when it comes to growing your business or brand, but no matter what, it should constantly be regulated. It is a fact that a large majority of customers base their decisions on previous customer reviews so having these available on your website can support future sales. 

This is why when it comes to customer feedback, there is weight behind what people are saying about your company or products. The way you deal with these responses represents the face of the brand, so you will need to know how to deal with it properly.   

Positive feedback

Let’s start with the positive feedback. This is by far, the easier kind to deal with. People may be expressing their delight for certain products, or commenting on their satisfactory, or even exceptional experiences with the services provided. Great! You’ve positively impacted this person, but how do you make the most of it? Well most reviews will be on public platforms, like Google or social media, so potential customers will be able to see them already. It is possible to occasionally share this feedback with your wider audience to show exactly what the potential customers could expect. 

Another way to maintain a great relationship with your happy customers is to respond to their positive feedback, stating how happy you (or the company/brand) are that they have had a great experience, further solidifying the bond between yourself and the consumer. It can also be a great way to market some of your other products, suggesting things ‘Thank you for the great feedback, if you like X you may be interested in Y’. 

Positive feedback is always useful and can elevate the status of your brand greatly, however negative feedback is a whole different ball game, and is where a lot of companies seem to handle interactions incorrectly. 

Negative feedback

Negative feedback is a lot harder to deal with. It ranges from sub-par reviews of a product, to outright anger. This negative feedback can have a damaging effect on your brand, leading to the loss of current customers and therefore a loss in revenue, along with a general poor reputation, repelling possible future customers. This negative feedback should be used as pointers to see what could be improved in future circumstances.

Let’s look at a few things that customers may consider poor customer service. First of all, the main reason customers get angry and annoyed is if they feel like they are getting ignored. This could be the root of most problems. Some companies in the past have decided to ignore all negative comments and reviews, in the hope that they fade away and get forgotten, which is an extremely poor way to handle criticism and complaints. All customer complaints should be interacted with and great care should be taken to ensure that you have either helped this customer, let them know where they need to go to get some help, or reassure them that their problem has been heard and work is underway to improve the situation.

If a customer struggles to find a place to voice their concerns, they begin to become irate. It is recommended that you would have an accessible customer service portal so that the majority of people with a problem can be directed there to try and get their problem resolved. If this service does not exist, or if it isn’t clear where they should be going, customers will try and find other ways to get into contact with you. This will inevitably spill onto social media. 

Your social media channels form a large part of the way your brand is perceived. Other users and potential customers will be able to see how your brand is being portrayed when it comes with customer care and problems and people will reach out via this platform as a way to communicate with your brand.

It is important to understand that no individual or company is perfect, so there will inevitably be complaints, however it is how they are dealt with that is the main issue in question. So, what is the best way to deal with negative feedback? There are multiple different ways, any one of which could be the most useful for you.

Responding as quickly as possible

A quick response time is integral to a good customer experience. People will not want to be waiting days to get a response for their query. The world of social media moves very fast, so people tend to expect to get their queries answered ASAP. The longer they are left hanging, the more frustrated they will get and begin to feel ignored. This is when more negative comments arise, eventually spiralling out of control.

A reasonable response time to aim for is around 24 hours. This means that you aren’t having to constantly check your messages, comments and mentions throughout the day, but the customer doesn’t have to wait too long before they feel like they are getting a response from your brand.

Take into account what their end goal is

What is the customer looking for? Customers will have different queries, ranging from simple questions, to full complaints. It is important to understand what the customer is looking to get from their query. This will be relevant when you are crafting a response. You need to work out what area will be the most helpful, however you could have two or three areas that are usually the best areas to send people to, i.e a customer service portal, or a contact page. This leads onto the next point.

Prepare a script for common complaints 

It is inevitable that people will throw all kinds of questions and problems at you, but you will most likely receive the same sort of query a lot of the time. It can be extremely beneficial to generate some generic responses for specific questions or situations. This will not only save you time, but will give clear and uniform instructions to everyone in these same situations, reducing any possible confusion that people may have if they are sent to different places for the same problem.

Be authentic and honest

People like to be listened to. It’s in human nature to respond positively to somebody who is being honest. You might have already responded to ten people that day and are already getting impatient, but to that customer, this is their first and only interaction with you. If you are responding to a customer make sure they are being treated properly. If customers are being kept in the loop whilst you are trying to find an answer, this will make sure that they remain patient, because they know there is somebody trying to help, however they will likely get louder and more annoyed if they feel like they are being ignored or treated poorly.

It can be important to check back with the customer and involve them when fixing their problem. This ensures they are not being left hanging, and over time, build up their trust in you to deliver them the answer they are looking for.

Explain where to go for help

In life, it is so much easier when you know where to go and what to do. This also applies to customer service. You should make it clear which forms of contact the customer needs to use, where they need to go to get their queries answered, and possibly how long it will take to get a significant answer.

Provide a portal for customer service interactions 

As mentioned before, If you are receiving a large amount of queries and interactions, it could be worth providing a customer service portal that everyone could use for multiple different queries. This way, instead of having to respond to queries in lots of different places, like different social media channels, phone calls or email, you can reduce the chance of missing anything by having it all in the same place.  On some of these channels, like Facebook and Instagram, you can configure auto-responses, allowing the channel to reply on your behalf, based on the type of query that has come through.

Tools for inbound queries

If you feel like it wouldn’t be possible to have your own customer service portal, it may be worth using a different tool when it comes to managing customer interactions. With today’s technology, there is an ever-increasing number of ways people can get into contact with you or your brand. With this in mind, tools such as Falcon.io and Hootsuite are available for a small fee, to manage all of your social channels in the same place. This again, reduces the chance of missing a customer query by reducing the amount of places that have to be checked.

These tools give you a number of different benefits when it comes to assessing and dealing with your customer’s queries. You have the ability to assign queries to certain members of your team, all within one environment, smoothing out the process if you can’t answer the customer yourself. You can also monitor and manage any mentions of the brand, being able to take action if necessary, as well as checking back and verifying if the customer’s problem has been solved after the fact. 

Summary

Overall, customer service can be a tricky business. Lots of things can go wrong if you are not prepared and don’t know how to deal with it, however hopefully you’ll now find it easier after reading through these points. You should now be ready to provide some integral support to your customers, no matter what they are asking for!

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