Customer Service in the Age of Social Media
How many times have you seen this scene?
A contrite CEO or business leader on television or issuing a statement apologizing for bad customer service. The local media doesn’t care that this same company exceeds its compliance obligations under its service level agreements (SLAs). That will never be newsworthy.
One bad customer service experience gets tweeted out to the world. It catches fire. Next thing you know, you’re the one fielding calls from reporters asking why your company fails so miserably at customer service.
The perils of one bad customer service moment can no longer be contained. Social media has made sure of that. The risks are greatest for service companies, such as utilities, insurance companies, or communication providers – any company where the touch points of customer service are genuinely face to face. Technicians and field representatives can no longer afford to just show up at a customer’s house at the company’s convenience.
If the experience, from scheduling to resolution, doesn’t go smoothly from the customer’s perspective – you potentially expose your company to bad PR and lost business.
Technology has changed expectations of what qualifies as good customer service
Just as the Internet has put the consumer in complete control of their buying experience, she is now also the final arbiter of whether she’s received good customer service. The Internet is the speed of life and customers are rebelling against the old ways of delivering service. Waiting three days for a technician to arrive is unacceptable. Customers demand more convenience from companies.
With the ease of mobile communications, no one understands why a company needs to block out a 4-hour service window. The impression left is of a company not savvy enough to use technology well to serve its customers. And if it can’t do that….how else is the company failing the consumer, they wonder?
People aren’t waiting to find out; 89 percent of consumers will leave a company for one of its competitors after a bad customer service experience.
In contrast, the American Express/Ebiquity 2014 Global Customer Service Barometer found that 68 percent of respondents said they’d be willing to spend more with a company that provides excellent customer service. In addition, 74 percent of respondents said they had spent more with a company because of its history of positive customer service experiences.
The take away? Customers value good service enough to pay for it, and they have little patience for companies that can’t provide it.
Social Media empowers customers in unprecedented ways
People act on their met or unmet expectations. People have always acted on their customer service experience by sharing it with others. Complaining to a friend. Making a recommendation to a co-worker. In fact, people share their bad experiences more often – and with more people – than they do the good experiences. According to the same American Express study, people share their positive experience with an average of 8 people. They share their bad experience with an average of 21 people.
Today they also expand the scope of the impact of their experience by sharing it through social media.
In addition to sharing through their own personal social media accounts, they’re also posting reviews to social review sites. According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, 70 percent of consumers take action based on opinions posted online, and online reviews are the third most trusted form of advertising, coming in a close second behind branded websites. Personal recommendations from people they know is the first most trusted source by a landslide.
So much more is at stake here than bad press. The bad press and poor social media standing due to bad customer service has bottom line impact. Both in terms in customer churn and acquisition.
Using technology to take control of the customer service experience
Two of the most consistent complaints of bad customer service are related: How slow was the service in responding and how many times/attempts were needed to resolve the issue. Here’s one more Twitter complaint, with the user being far too kind by not revealing the offending company’s name:
Any service company, especially one with field representatives, has to be pro-active about avoiding that one bad moment that gets tweeted to the world. While technology lets customers amplify their bad experiences; it can also be used to guarantee a quality customer experience.
What You Need
Let’s focus on a common first step in the service experience – scheduling an appointment. People want to be able to schedule the appointment easily, and not have to wait around for the technician to arrive as scheduled. They also want the issue resolved on the first visit, which requires a technician with the right expertise and tools be the one dispatched. This means service organizations need to:
- have online appointment scheduling, including via mobile devices
- have an agile back-end that can process resource and location data quickly to offer up narrow appointment windows that are convenient to the customer and minimize logistical costs to the company
- provide real-time notifications among the company, field representative, and customer on the day of the appointment as to when the technician will arrive so the customer isn’t kept hostage at home any longer than necessary
Service organizations still need to meet their SLA commitments, but individual customers don’t care about your SLA. The guy who sat at home for four hours only to have no technician arrive doesn’t care that you meet your SLA. He only knows that his experience was bad, and that’s what he’s going to post on his Facebook page.
Instead of letting social media and technology be the reason to fear poor customer service delivery, use technology to take control of all your customer service moments – for the sake of your company and your customers.
Are you using technology to improve customer service and experiences?
Categories:Field Service Management