Customer service is more than just a 1-800 line or salesperson who helps you. As a marketer, I believe it is really about external brand communications and ultimately enhancing brand equity. Now more than ever, a small, isolated customer service incident can become a national PR disaster. For those companies who don’t make customer service a priority or handle situations the right way, it can cost them dearly.
It’s simple – failure to meet consumers’ expectations can damage brands. According to a recent study from Genesys, with research firm Greenfield Online and Datamonitor/Ovum analysts, U.S. companies lose an estimated $83 billion each year due to lost purchases and customers as a direct result of a poor experience. In fact, 71 percent of consumers have ended a relationship because of a poor customer service experience.
Consumers don’t want to feel like they are not being heard. These days, with the help of social media and other channels, consumers have a much bigger voice. This is something we saw with film director Kevin Smith and his recent Southwest Airlines flight experience. While Kevin has a slightly larger platform than most, he was still able to catapult his unpleasant flight experience to national news.
It is important for brands to set up the proper infrastructure to ensure communication is being trickled all the way down and to the right people. There is nothing worse than consumer-facing employees not being educated about programs or products that are heavily promoted through other disciplines (e.g., ads, POP, email newsletters). Some things to consider when developing a customer service strategy are:
Ease of implementation
Pertinent information distribution across all appropriate channels
Program-specific reactive responses
Online conversation monitoring
Direct-to-consumer communications, if appropriate
Brands should be willing to adapt to the times and be open to change. A plan that was well received for the last 25 years might still be outdated. At the end of the day, the ball is in the brands’ courts. If they choose to put emphasis on evaluating their customer service efforts, it may save them big in the end and win the hearts of consumers across the country.
-- Jessica Lappen, Account Supervisor