Customer Service Rules in the Digital Age

In my post Building the Brands of Tomorrow, I stated that one of the things that companies needed to do to build the brand of the future is to listen to their customers. This means handling customer complaints promptly. We are in the digital age. In this age, social networks are the wave of the future. Today’s consumer is an empowered consumer. A customer can quickly share their thoughts about a product or an experience on Facebook, Twitter, Google and many other networks. Brands need to be present on social networks to interact and engage with the empowered consumer. More and more consumers are consulting their social networks for product recommendations.

Many companies are not fielding the empowered consumers’ complaints on social networks. In other words they are not providing customer service on social networks. Whenever we have an issue with a product, we have to call an 800 number which makes you listen to prompt after prompt.  When you finally do get a person, you have to relay to them all of your information. Once you do this, they in turn transfer you another person who is either a specialist or the next person up the chain of command. It seems that no one can handle your issue.  Heaven forbid you are waiting for 20 minutes or more; there is a good chance that you would be disconnected. This practice is wrong because it frustrates customers and they tell every one of their horrible experience with your brand. More and more consumers are venting their frustrations on social networks. As I discussed before, local word of mouth marketing has become global marketing. A message shared on a social network can spread all around the world within a matter of hours.  Ignoring customer complaints is just bad for business and will destroy your brands reputation.

A Product’s quality needs to be top-notch to cut the need for customer service. However, we know that with even the best products; issues arise. Customer service needs to be transformed. This transformation has to take place at the corporate level because as I stated before, people see brands as one unit and as a result; companies need to take each one of their brands and create a task force. This task force should consist of members from top management, brand managers and members of the sales and marketing departments. Customer complaints need to be fielded in real-time on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Waiting time for customers on 800 numbers also needs to be reduced.

Remember that meeting the needs of your customers is critical to keeping them buying your product. It costs more to earn new business that to keep the business your current customer base generates today. Resolving customer’s issues can lead to up selling or cross selling of products and services during the exchange! By providing a customer service experience that makes a customer sit up and take notice, you help to improve your reputation in this new digital age. As a brand, don’t you want to reap the benefits or local word of mouth marketing or global marketing?

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