How To Negate the Negative Customer Experiences

rahul

No matter how hard businesses try, sometimes little can be done to avoid a bad customer experience. The ‘Bent iPhone’ chronicle from a few years ago is an apt example. Given Apple’s emphasis on quality, we can be quite certain that they performed the necessary quality checks. Sometimes though, the unexpected occurs and businesses must be ready to deal with the consequences.

In today’s highly connected world, the business communication and feedback landscape is a gargantuan one. Avenues for voicing opinions are multifarious, and customers can communicate with a brand – and the world – with a single click.  More than ever before today’s netizens are actively looking for consumer reviews about brands and products before they buy, and websites like Mouthshut.com, blogs, social media and e-commerce pages, have helped steer consumers toward (and away) from potential purchases. In addition to the wealth of available information, the highly competitive business landscape has also made it easier for customers to quickly find an alternative when s/he is dissatisfied with their current experience.  Some brands even take a proactive approach.  Take for instance when a popular Mobile Network Provider, stepped in and offered to deliver a SIM card to actor Amitabh Bachchan, while he was voicing his dissatisfaction with his current service provider. It has never been easier for a competitor to scoop up business and as a result, positive customer experiences – ones that provide no discrepancy between what customers want and what businesses provide — are critical.  Not an easy task by any means.

In this new era of customer service, businesses cannot afford to provide anything less than a seamless, trouble-free customer experience, if they want to build loyalty that yields long-term results. A recent research report from Ovum found that 82 per cent of customers will not do business with the same brand again after one bad experience. While that is a terrifying number, there is a quite a bit that businesses can do to convert a bad experience into a favorable one.  According to Lee Resources, 70 per cent of customers will do business again if a complaint is resolved in their favor.  So the question that businesses must ask themselves is – How do we make it right?

Be proactive

Timeliness and transparency are key to solving customer queries. Once you become aware of the negative experience, let the customer immediately know you are on the case and doing everything possible to rectify the damage. Constant and efficient communication across channels will ensure that customers are well-informed at every turn about the effort you are putting in.  Going beyond the regular call of duty helps restore the consumer’s confidence in the brand. 

Emphasis on the first contact

The first contact might not always be an angry phone call. In today’s multi-platform world, it can be made through social media or other third party platforms, just as easily as it can be made directly to you.  No matter how you find out about the bad experience, ensure that the customer service team takes advantage of the first interaction to rectify as much of the damage as possible. Whether it entails providing missing information or replacement of a faulty product, customer service staff must be equipped to provide the right kind of support necessary for rebuilding the damaged relationship, the first time they speak with the customer.

A report from Oracle states that among the respondents who reported an increase in first contact resolution over the previous 12 months, 75 percent indicated a resulting increase in customer satisfaction. This is a significant statistic that cannot be ignored.

Make sure the issue is fully resolved

While a sincere apology is cardinal, it is not enough. Nothing is better than actually fixing the issue. As mentioned earlier, 70 per cent of customers will do business again if a complaint is resolved in their favor – which means there is a lot of value in saving the relationship. Customer Service representatives should be cognizant of this fact, and they must be empowered to explore every available avenue to make sure that issues are resolved. A resolved issue goes a long way in rebuilding customer confidence and putting things back on track.

Prevention is better than cure

The age-old saying always holds true, and most customer issues can be prevented altogether by instilling good practices from the beginning. Make sure that you are invested in offering a quality product or service – one where questions and complaints are an anomaly.  Beyond that, though, work to develop a customer service strategy including the proper tools and training to help the agents be successful.  Understanding customers – who they are, where they are, and the way they like to interact - and ensuring that those channels are available, seamlessly work together, and effective for delivering fast resolutions, is imperative. Finally, know that the work is never done. Businesses must constantly improve – both the product they are selling, and the service and support they are delivering.

As we continue to develop and integrate newer technologies into this new era of customer service, it’s important for all businesses to ensure – to the best of their ability – a superior experience for their customers each and every time they interact.  Of course, even the most beloved brands have a bad day every now and then – but what sets them apart is how they handle it.  They see their customers through that negative experience, right the wrong, and ultimately turn customer service into a competitive differentiator.  A bad customer experience is never ideal, but thankfully, it is always an opportunity to improve. 

[Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Trivone Media Network's or that of CXOToday's.]