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The Customer Service Hostage Situation

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Customer Service Experience

Some of my clients have mentioned to me that social media gives customers such an upper hand. One even mentioned that he felt that his customers are holding his company hostage. These clients are concerned that if they don’t give their customers the service or experience that they think they deserve, they will turn to Twitter, share the experience on Facebook, post a negative review on Yelp, and more.

You know what I think? I think that it simply means our customers are holding the company to a higher standard.

Customer service is different than in the past. One of the biggest differences is that today our customers are smarter than ever. They know what good customer service is. They hear their friends talking about it, they see it on TV. They don’t just compare you to the service they receive from your competitor, they compare it to the amazing experience they received at the restaurant they dined at last night, or the hotel they stayed at on vacation. They compare you to Nordstrom, Zappos, and all of the other brands that are known for customer service.

When customers don’t get the customer service they think they deserve – the service that they know a company is capable of providing – they no longer just complain to a few friends, or simply stop doing business with you. They want to tell the world about it. And, can you blame them?

I think this is good. Hold us to a higher standard. For some of us, stepping up will feel forced. For others, it will mean simply playing the game we are best known for. The bottom line is that it will be good for business.

So, how do you keep the customer from holding you hostage to a social media blitzkrieg? To start, meet the customer’s expectations. Do what you’re supposed to do, and do it with a positive attitude. And if you hear the customer complain, fix it. And do it fast. Don’t let the situation get out of hand. If the complaint is not taken care of to the customer’s minimal satisfaction, you risk them complaining to others; which means their friends at a party, family members around the dinner table, and their connections on social media.

Now, if you can exceed your customers’ expectations, especially in contentious or tenuous situations; you create, as business guru Ken Blanchard calls them, “raving fans.” They will quickly learn that they can count on you, even when there is a problem. And the best part of that is that these fans will come back; and they are likely to talk about you to those same friends, family members, and social connections.

So, are our customers really holding us hostage? Or, are we just not willing to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played today. If you’re not already doing so, step up and deliver the customer service experience that your customers know they deserve.

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