For a dramatic example of one dissatisfied customer using the power of the Internet to really stick it to a company, look no further than United Airlines’ infamous “guitar incident.” Musician David Carroll traveled with UA, and was horrified to learn that his $3,500 guitar was damaged by United’s baggage handlers. Even though United could have easily remedied this situation by paying for the damages, they chose not to, leaving Carroll disappointed and irate.
Seeking justice, Carroll turned to the online public forum that is the Internet. He used his music skills to write a song and music video about his experience, appropriately titled, “United Breaks Guitars.”
The video went viral, receiving attention from media outlets and investors alike. Within a month of posting the video, United’s stock fell by a whopping 10 percent, which comes out to roughly $180 million! Tragically, this entire incident could’ve easily been avoided if UA would have just ponied up a few grand and bought a new guitar for Mr. Carroll.
When it comes to providing outstanding customer service, you want to do more than avoid making people mad. You need to go above and beyond and offer the best service possible. Here are four ways that any business can improve their customer service.
Communicate Your Availability to Your Customers
When a customer encounters an issue, they may wrongly assume that you’re not available to handle it, and then tell everyone about how your company “dropped the ball.” It’s well known that a customer is three times more likely to tell others about their negative experience than a positive one. Insult is added to injury when the broadcasting of a negative experience could’ve easily been prevented by the customer knowing about you and your team being available to assist them. Now for some good news, when a customer finds help and their problem is happily resolved, they will tell up to six people of their positive experience.
Actually DO Quality Customer Service
Providing outstanding customer service is much, much easier said than done. In a poll of businesses, nearly 90 percent of all companies said that customer service is their top strategic priority, yet, only 3 percent were actually shown to provide quality customer care. Providing great customer service has to be more than a marketing ploy or a feel-good decision by the executive board. Prioritizing in customer service must permeate the entire company and be a major part of its culture. This is the only way that your customer service representatives (the people who actually DO customer service), will come to care enough to go above and beyond. If your team perceives that customer service is just talk from the higher ups, they’ll treat the customers accordingly.
Reach Out to Your Customers Online
These same customers who use the Internet to tell others about their good or bad experiences with your business, can be positively influenced by your business through online interaction. By engaging your customers through your company’s social media pages, and even serving their needs online through your website, they will perceive that you care, which will go a long way in improving your company’s image.
Compete By Providing Better Customer Service
It’s been shown that up to 59 percent of customers would switch brands if better customer service is offered. Therefore, a valid growth strategy for your business is to simply offer your competitors’ customers better service. When it comes down to it, this is a much easier way to grow your business than spending a lot of money on marketing or reinventing how you do things. Instead, simply care for your customers better than how your competition is. Word will get out and you’ll begin to see people make the switch.
It takes a lot of intentionality and work to provide your customers with outstanding service, but if you’re able to pull it off, the payoff will be huge. Subsequently, if you fail in the arena of customer service, your bottom line will take a major hit. It’s as simple as how you choose to treat people.