The Customer is Always Right
No matter the size of your business, good customer service is integral to success, and needs to be at the heart of any industry model. Bad customer service can result in a loss of existing and potential customers, and can ruin a company’s reputation in a heartbeat.
Everybody has most likely had a memorably unfavourable customer service experience that has made them walk away from a business, causing the company responsible to lose a customer. when a customer has a question or product issue, they expect a company’s customer service department to resolve their queries or, at the very least attempt to, with a genuine desire to make the customer feel satisfied and happy with the service they have received.
According to Business Tech, new research estimates the cost of people switching companies due to poor customer service to be worth a staggering $47 billion (around R619 billion) in south Africa alone. Accenture – a leading global professional services company that provides a range of strategy, consulting, digital, technology, and operations services and solutions – calls this a “switching economy”. It found that customers – particularly within the retail, ISP, banking, and mobile provider industries – are more likely to switch companies due to poor customer service, despite being offered preferential treatment or rewarded for doing business with them.
Accenture recently surveyed 12,867 endconsumers in over 30 countries, including South Africa, across 10 different industries. The research in south Africa revealed that a whopping 76% of customers switched service providers in the past year due to bad customer service, and 88% of these said that the companies in question could have done something differently to prevent this switch.
According to the same survey, 92% of south African customers are increasingly frustrated that they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason, 91% of customers say that their frustrations come from being put on hold for a long time, and 90% say they are unsatisfied by having to repeat their issues to multiple representatives without getting results. Many of us can agree that these issues are totally relatable and therein lies a problem in itself: why is it that the same problems aren’t getting dealt with efficiently in order to make customers happy?
while south Africans are still relatively traditional when it comes to methods of communication and still rely heavily on person-to-person support, rather than using the Internet, it is undeniable that the future is web-based. Phoning call centres or going in-store for assistance is becoming increasingly tedious and people just don’t have the time for this kind of interaction anymore. The Accenture survey showed that only 6% of south African consumers interact with companies via social media on a regular basis. while this is certainly a low percentage, it is growing by the day due to the consistent nature of the frustrations with customer service that consumers have been experiencing for decades. south Africans are most likely to tell their immediate family, associates, and circle of friends about negative experiences with companies – and now use social media to do so. social media is without a doubt the most effective way of tarnishing a company that has done you wrong, and this is precisely why modern businesses have to be on top of their social media games.
Pete Matthaei, Director and co-founder of Brandchat, says the best way of improving customer service is by being immediately accessible via instant messaging platforms. “Companies should realise the true impact of bad customer service and its effect on customer loyalty and satisfaction,” he says. Cape Town-based Brandchat is a single platform for brands and their agencies to talk to customers in a highly personalised manner and across multiple messaging platforms. It integrates a range of messaging platforms including Facebook and wechat, allowing the end user to communicate and interact with a number of businesses via the platform they choose.
some prominent businesses that are already on the Brandchat bandwagon include: standard Bank, Zando, News24, ENCA, and orderin. These all have rapidly growing communities and have found the platform to be extremely useful when dealing with disgruntled customers. Matthaei stresses that it is crucial for businesses to respond effectively to customers when they complain: “Customers can be very demanding, but with an effective response, it is still possible to obtain a more loyal customer afterwards than you had before they experienced the problem.”
Not only does Brandchat allow businesses to communicate more effectively with customers who have complaints, it has also developed tools which enable companies to create engaging additional content – such as latest news, special offers, and getting feedback via polls or surveys – to share with users in real time.
since 2015, Brandchat has attracted over 1.9 million users and it’s growing daily. The platform will soon integrate with whatsapp, making it one of the most effective ways to reach customers and deal immediately and effectively with their qualms. There is no doubt that this is the direction we are all headed, forgoing traditional communication methods as these new ways are easier – starting a chat is quicker than downloading an app, far more immediate and cheaper than making a phone call, and simpler than trying to figure out a complex web site.
Every company is quick to say that the customer is its number one priority, but few “walk the talk” when it comes to upping their standards and delivering remarkable customer service. Great customer service doesn’t just put a smile on the customer’s face, it helps a company understand its customers better, defines the company, and impacts their bottom line – it’s a win-win situation.